For this post, I decided to type up a structured meditation from Sam Hamilton-Poore’s Earth Gospel,1 which I’ve recently been working through and find really brilliant. In my experience, it’s been difficult to find ecology-centered liturgy from a Christian perspective. This compilation feels contemporary, inclusive, yet steeped in tradition, which is a tricky feat to accomplish I think. In any case, there’s a reflection for each day of the week, and each reflection includes a mix of scripture, poetry, prayers/blessings, and some form of prose writing. Friday’s theme is always “Sin and the Destruction of Creation,” which I imagine has something to do with Friday being the day of Christ’s crucifixion. I’ve tried to copy the reflection the same way it appears in the book in case any of our readers want to read it in the context of their own personal devotional and/or meditational practice (it looks like a marathon but if you do one section in the morning, midday, and evening as indicated, it’s really very doable).

Friday

Sin and the Destruction of Creation


MORNING

Opening Lutheran World Federation

Christ, our wounded healer
suffering the pains of creation,
lead us back to the tree of life,
to the source of healing for the Earth.

Hymn from “Come, Lord, and Tarry Not” by Horatius Bonar

Come, Lord, and tarry not;
Bring the long-looked-for-day;
O why these years of waiting here,
These ages of delay?

Come, for creation groans,
Impatient, of Thy stay,
Worn out with these long years of ill,
These ages of delay.

Come and make all things new;
Build up this ruined earth;
Restore our faded Paradise,
Creation’s second birth.

Scripture Jeremiah 12:10-13 (NRSV)

[10] Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard,
they have trampled down my portion,
they have made my pleasant portion
a desolate wilderness.
[11] They have made it a desolation;
desolate, it mourns to me.
The whole land is made desolate,
but no one lays it to heart.
[12] Upon all the bare heights in the desert
spoilers have come;
for the sword of the LORD devours
from one end of the land to the other;
no one shall be safe.
[13] They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns,
they have tired themselves out but profit nothing.
They shall be ashamed of their harvests
because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

Pause for prayer & meditation

Another Voice Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

The root cause of all our difficulties lies in human selfishness and human sin. What is asked of us in not greater technological skill but deeper repentance, or metanoia, which in the literal sense of the Greek word signifies “change of mind.” The root cause of our environmental sin lies in our self-centeredness and in the mistaken order of values that we inherit and accept without any critical evaluation. We need a new way of thinking about our own selves, about our relationship with the world and with God. Without this revolutionary “change of mind,” all our conservation projects, however well intentioned, will remain ultimately ineffective. For we shall be dealing only with the symptoms, not with their cause. Lectures and international conferences may help to awaken our conscience, but what is truly required is a baptism of tears.

Prayer U.N. Environmental Sabbath

Great Spirit, give us hearts to understand;
never to take from creation’s beauty more than we can give;
never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed;
never to deny to give our hands
for the building of Earth’s beauty;
never to take from her what we cannot use.
Give us hearts to understand
that to destroy Earth’s music is to create confusion;
that to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty;
that to callously pollute her fragrance
is to make a house of stench;
that as we care for her she will care for us. Amen.

Blessing Peter W. Millar (adapted)

May the good Lord show you
how to be frugal, till all are fed;
how to weep, till all can laugh;
how to be meek, till all can stand in pride;
how to mourn, till all are comforted;
how to be restless, till all live in peace;
how to claim less, till all find justice.
Then you will be blessed indeed
and the earth itself will be blessed
through you.


MIDDAY

Reflection “Tragic Error” by Denise Levertov

The earth is the Lord’s, we gabbled,
and the fullness thereof––
while we looted and pillaged, claiming indemnity:
the fullness thereof
given over to us, to our use––
while we preened ourselves, sure of our power,
wilful or ignorant, through the centuries.

Miswritten, misread, that charge:
subdue was the false, the misplaced word in the story.
Surely we were to have been
earth’s mind, mirror, reflective source.
Surely our task
was to have been
to love the earth,
to dress and keep it like Eden’s garden.

That would have been our dominion:
to be those cells of earth’s body that could
perceive and imagine, could bring the planet
into the haven it is to be known,
(as the eye blesses the hand, perceiving
its form and the work it can do).

Prayer

Set me free, O God,
from my empire-prison
of human self-importance.
Help me to serve you and your creation
with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.


EVENING

Opening Psalm 51:10-11 (NRSV)

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.

Scripture Psalm 107:33-43 (ILP)

[33] God turns rivers into a desert,
springs of water into thirsty ground,
[34] a fruitful land into a salty waste,
because of the wickedness of its inhabitants…

[35] God turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
[36] And there God lets the hungry dwell,
and they establish a city to live in;
[37] they sow fields, and plant vineyards,
and get a fruitful yield…
[38] They multiply greatly by the blessing of God,
who does not let their cattle decrease.
[39] When they are diminished and brought low
through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,
[40] God pours contempt upon princes
and makes them wander in tactless wastes;
[41] but God raises up those who are needy out of
affliction, and makes their families like flocks…
[42] The upright see it and are glad;
and all wickedness stops its mouth.
[43] Whoever is wise should give heed to these things;
let people consider the steadfast love of God.

Pause for prayer & meditation

Another Voice Leonardo Boff

Astronauts who travelled into space and recorded their impressions of the earth described it as a ship on a voyage. In fact, in this ship which is the earth a fifth of the population are travelling in first class and in luxury class; they enjoy all the benefits. They consume 80 percent of the resources available for the voyage. The remaining 80 percent of the passengers are travelling steerage. They suffer cold, hunger, and all kinds of privations. Many ask why they are travelling steerage. Need forces others to rebel. It is not difficult to see what is at stake. Either everyone can be saved in a system of communal solidarity and participation on the ship––and in that case fundamental changes are necessary––or, as a result of outrage and revolt, the ship will explode and throw everyone into the sea. This awareness is growing throughout the world.

Prayer “Waste” by Stephen Orchard

Not only in ancient ruined cities
but in and around the modern city
are the waste-heaps and garbage of our lives,
picked over by the foxes and the crows
and the human scavengers who make a living there.

Forgive us, Lord, for mentioning
our rubbish in our prayers.
We would rather enjoy the fruits of creation
and forget about the consequences.
Forgive us our polluted water,
our toxic soil and sulphurous air.
Forgive us all the dumped surpluses,
the slag heaps and the piles of scrap.
We thank you for the signs of your forgiveness;
for the plants and trees which colonies
even the most unsightly ground;
for the animals and birds who learn to live
in secret places in our urban sprawl
and turn our rubbish to good account.

We thank you for those who deal with our rubbish,
who keep our streets and houses healthy;
who guard us against poisons and radiation,
or who turn our waste into new riches.

We pray for those for whom the rubbish tip
is the only source of food and wealth,
picking through others’ leanings in the search
to keep their family alive.

Most generous giver, from whose creation there is enough for all and to spare,
make us wise stewards of the earth’s treasure and generous in our turn to one
another.

Blessing

Within the economy of God’s grace,
nothing is ever wasted
and no one thrown away.
May you entrust yourself
and God’s creation
to the power and peace
of Christ’s recycling love.

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