Amid crises that have shaken our world, the global Christian family was awakened to the urgent need to heal our relationships with creation and with each other during the ecumenical Season of Creation.
From 1 September through 4 October, thousands of Christians on six continents united for a time of restoration and hope, a jubilee for our Earth, and discovered radically new ways of living with creation.
More than ever before, the global Christian family united to pray and take action for our common home.
Thousands of people and communities participated in life-giving events, lighting the way for our most vulnerable sisters and brothers, who are searching for hope amidst a pandemic and the worsening climate crisis, among other crises affecting our world.
WATCH: Global Christian family unites for the Season of Creation
Throughout the month-long celebration, signs of such crises were all around us. Fires made worse by the climate crisis raged in North America, destroying entire communities and leaving families to mourn lost loved ones, and worrisome flames in Brazil reached virgin parts of the Amazon.
In the Far North, a recent study reported the rapid crumbling of two crucial glaciers, which, if melted, could raise global sea levels by four feet (1.2 meters).
Oleoducto de crudo de África Oriental. Foto por OxFam.
In Uganda, activists fighting for a cleaner future and standing in solidarity against the proposed East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) were arrested for planning a peaceful demonstration.
But amid everything, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the global Christian family committed to working for a better tomorrow and caring for our common home like never before since the season started being celebrated in 2003.
“That hope will be in actions that we take bringing together people of faith and people of no faith in our communities.”
Here are the top five highlights for the 2020 Season of Creation.
One Christian family, together
Christians who participated in the Season of Creation represented numerous denominations, but they were focused on one goal: caring for our common home.
Rev. Dr. Rachel Mash compared the global Christian family coming together for the Season of Creation like independent water tributaries of various sizes pouring into one large and mighty river, such as the Amazon.
“Each tributary has a name. But once a tributary has a name that flows into the river, it loses its name . . . that is what gives the river the power,” she said.
During the season, Christian denominations lose their names and become one global Christian family “because we’re flowing into the big river that is the Season of Creation,” she said.
“We become a river that can really begin to wear away mountains and make big, big changes.”
Christians care for creation in Cape Town.
Rev. Dr. Chad Rimmer serves as the Program Executive for Lutheran Theology and Practice at the Lutheran World Federation. He highlighted the power and the significance of the world’s 2.4 billion Christians uniting to care for creation at the same time.
“Sometimes we celebrate Christmas and Easter at different times, but during the Season of Creation, the Body of Christ is in liturgical solidarity. This is a powerful experience of visible unity,” he said.
Christians take part in Season of Creation activities in Mozambique.
The global Christian family comes together to advocate around other issues, such as migration, gender justice, and economic equity, Rimmer noted. But the various Christian denominations have inherent differences around the details of such advocacy work.
That’s not the case with the call to care for creation and advocate for climate justice, he said: the global Christian family is boldly united to seek justice for the most vulnerable among us.
“We know that the kind of ecological conversion that is needed to overcome the anthropocentrism that leads us to sin against creation and future generations begins with the Gospel calling us back to this fundamental cosmic unity, as creation that begins and is sustained in the love of the Creator. For that reason, the call of the Season of Creation is truly an ecumenical initiative in every sense of the word,” he said.
Inspiring Christian leadership
In his blessed new year letter, Bartholomew I of Constantinople invited Orthodox men and women to use the new year to take action for creation and avoid further ecological harm to God’s Earth. The Orthodox Church year starts 1 September with a commemoration of how God created the world.
“The struggle for the protection of creation is a central dimension of our faith . . . the destruction of creation is an offense against the Creator, entirely irreconcilable with the basic tenets of Christian theology,” he wrote.
As has been the case throughout his seven-year papacy, Pope Francis prophetically led the Catholic Church’s efforts to care for our common home.
On 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis started the season for the second consecutive year with a powerful papal message that encouraged Catholics to take action.
Today, the nature that surrounds us is no longer admired, but “devoured”. We must return to contemplation; so as not to be distracted by a thousand useless things, we must find silence; for the heart not to become sick, we must be still. #SeasonOfCreation— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) September 17, 2020
On the final day of the season, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, Pope Francis thanked Christians around the world who spent time during the season caring for God’s creation.
Dr. Louk Andrianos is a World Council of Churches consultant on Care for Creation, Sustainability and Climate Justice. He was among the many other Christian leaders who also compelled the faithful to take part.
“We are living in an era of anthropocene greed which is led by a spirit of endless consumerism and exploitation of creation,” Dr. Andrianos said. “Together, we can follow the Gospel of repentance and read the signs of the time.”
Christians everywhere taking action
All over the world, thousands of Christians prayed and took action for creation.
Every week, thousands came together from around the world for online webinars, during which experts shared how all of us can advocate for a just transition from fossil fuels throughout the globe.
WATCH: A Just Transition for Asia Pacific and Oceania
Celebrating the launch of Mary Magdalene Garden in South Sudan.
- 19 young people from the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, Kenya, the Philippines, Singapore, Palestine, and Ecuador started the season with a lively ecumenical prayer service that featured songs and readings from scripture that helped place all participants in the mindset of celebrating God’s creation.
- In South Sudan, a group of Catholics and Fr. Tim Galvin launched Mary Magdalene Garden, where they planted mostly fruit trees to help curb food security in the region.
- In Cape Town, young Christians created a compelling video that encouraged everyone to take action. Among their life-giving suggestions: turn trash into treasure, pick up litter, or create a vegetable garden.
- During an ecumenical online prayer service hosted by the Archdiocese of Chicago, Christians reflected on this year’s theme: “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”
WATCH: Young Christians in Cape Town come #Together4Creation
In particular, this year’s Season of Creation saw more and more young people, such as the young Christians in Cape Town mentioned above, uniting for creation and calling on others to pray and take action for our common home.
Another inspirational example was a Season of Creation webinar that featured five young people who are leading the fight for climate justice. They shared ways all of us can move closer to becoming who God wants us to be by doing more for creation.
Luiz Filipe Fialho
Daniel Dos Santos Lima
Both Daniel and Luiz work with young people from indigenous communities that live on banks of the Amazon River.
“Unfortunately many crimes have been committed here in the Amazon. Crimes against humanity, crimes against the environment, and little has been done to combat all that has degraded the Amazon,” Daniel said.
Christian institutions show the way
More than 300 partners led their communities in Spirit-filled action. Some partners, such as the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, produced resources that helped their networks grow closer to our Creator during this special time of the year.
The FABC published an e-booklet about the life-giving value of water and encouraged its network to take action to protect the vital resource.
Other partners hosted in-person events that equally sought to bring about meaningful and lasting spiritual change within the thousands of participants.
Uniting around the theme ‘Jubilee for the Earth’
“We saw that we need a ‘Jubilee’ time for creation, and for humanity to remember that we should stop our way of exploiting nature and remember that we have to be united,” said Dr. Andrianos with the World Council of Churches.
Together, Christians rejoiced in the opportunity to care for our common home. “Everyone has found exactly what we mean by living in a common Earth, living the experience of interconnection with nature and with human beings,” he said.
“Most important is the connection with God . . . We cannot survive by our own means, by our own technology, by our own knowledge. It’s all about God’s mercy and God’s grace.”
Much work remains to be done to stop the ecological crisis and climate emergency, but the continued commitment and emergence of Christians around the world coming together to care for our common home inspires hope in all of us.
The global Christian family remains grateful beyond words to God our Creator and Jesus Christ.