By Rachel Mash and Suzana Moreira
*Republished by permission from Reformed Worship ©️ 2023 Worship Ministries* This blog contains excerpts adapted from the original article. Find the full article in English here.
Over the past few years, an increasing number of churches are including the Season of Creation in their Christian year calendar. The Christian year is a useful tool for organizing the preaching and worship schedule of congregations. But where does this new Season of Creation fit into the larger framework of the liturgical year?
Reformed Worship posed those and other questions to Rachel Mash (South Africa) and Suzana Moreira (Brazil), co-chairs of the Ecumenical Steering Committee for the Season of Creation.
Theology and Purpose of the Christian Year
The liturgical calendar is a result of an ancient tradition of faith communities seeking to celebrate the experience of God in their everyday lives throughout the year. The Christian tradition took on the main feasts of our faith, the salvific actions of Christ, and distributed them over a year. The center of the liturgical celebrations is always the Paschal mystery, which illuminates all the moments of the year. Every year we then have the opportunity to celebrate a new cycle, drawing from the new perspectives of everyday life today, embedded in the ancient tradition and roots of our faith.
Western Christian liturgical calendars like the Revised Common Lectionary are based on the cycle of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church and are followed in many Protestant churches, including the Lutheran, Anglican, and Presbyterian traditions, among others. It is one way to express Scripture’s truth that there is one faith.
We have seasons to celebrate the work of God the Son, such as at Easter and Christmas, and God the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But we don’t have a traditional period for considering the work of God the Creator, and so the Season of Creation is dedicated to considering the Scriptures that teach about the work of God the Creator.
In fact, Christ’s very first act in the history of salvation was, together with the Creator, the creation of the cosmos: “Through him all things were made” (John 1:3). That loving creative act is the prerequisite for the rest of the story. [In a 2008 interview] Pope Benedict XVI said, “If we do not proclaim God in his full grandeur—as Creator and as Redeemer—we also diminish the value of the redemption” (Benedict XVI, 6 August 2008).
That’s why we should celebrate much more intentionally the Season of Creation: as an opportunity to dive deeper into the great mystery of Creation. And during the Season of Creation we are called to ponder and honor the two interrelated meanings of “creation”: the divine act that created the cosmos and the resulting gift from such an act.
The motivation for the season comes from an awareness of the importance of creation and the need to explore what Scripture is saying about creation, which leads Christians to pray for and act to protect creation.
An Ecumenical and Global Movement
The awareness of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution have made us realize that our common home is under threat. As a global ecumenical family, we are the producers of plastic waste; we are the informal waste pickers; we are those whose health is damaged by burning plastic pollution from other nations.
The challenges we face are global, and so the responses need to be global. Yet the main environmental challenges we face are selfishness, greed, and apathy, so we need a spiritual response.
As Christians, many times we forget to acknowledge the cultural differences and geographical contexts that influence our lives and even the ways we can celebrate our faith. The season is global so that we can remember that to truly care for creation we need to think globally while acting locally.
The more congregations and different denominations celebrate this season, the more we grow closer to the mystery of faith in the incarnation and redemption and to one another. We need to hear what God is saying to us at this point in history, so we must explore the Scriptures. This season gives us an opportunity to focus on the Scriptures, on prayer, and on action. We believe that the role of faith communities is of great importance in facing the challenges.
Next Steps and Resources
We have many churches participating who do not follow the liturgical year. You understand your church and context; the important thing is to be preaching, praying, and acting at the time of year that best suits you!
Register on the website (seasonofcreation.org) to receive information. Check back regularly to see what other churches in your area are doing. Consider a joint ecumenical service. Form a team for the season who might think of themes for the different weeks and look for speakers, creative activities for youth, liturgical resources, and hymns/songs on the theme.