By Archbishop Chris Harper
The Season of Creation, a globally and ecumenically recognized time for prayer and care for the earth, begins Sept. 1 and is themed “Let Justice and Peace Flow” this year. The month ends with the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30. These two events form a wonderful moment for the church, like the opening and ending of a book, and what we do in between should add to our lives and change us.
In our ministries we use prayer books to lead and guide us into a common purpose that unites us across time and space. In A Disciple’s Prayer Book, used in Indigenous gospel-based discipleship, three questions are asked following the reading of the gospel passages appointed for the day. That passage is not only the focus of the gathering time; it’s also used throughout the day to help us centre ourselves. In this way we stand as one, connected to what the Lord is saying, opening ourselves to the Lord’s guiding and calling. The three questions are:
- What word(s), idea(s), or phrase/ sentence(s) stand out for you?
- What is Jesus (the gospel) saying to you?
- What is Jesus (the gospel) calling you to do?
This month, most of us will be getting back to our duties and responsibilities after an eventful summer. We may pause to reflect on and assess our shared summer story. Most of us will prayerfully look back and acknowledge that this past summer was just a little out of the ordinary. It was hotter than usual across the globe, with wildfires and flooding in many areas. In this month, we as Christians should pause and reflect on what we are doing to our world and to the future of those who will follow. How will our story be read by future readers? What will be our place in the story of God’s Creation? This past summer has tested both Creation and our willingness to steward it. Creation is not just gently calling but screaming for us, its children, to wake up and change our ways—and pay the bill. The Season of Creation aims to make this a reality by calling on us as children of Creation to seek unity through common action, prayer and reflection, to strive for justice and peace for the world.
Justice and peace are words, but what we do is the essence of our ministry. It’s the same with truth and reconciliation: Our contribution makes these words meaningful to our own personal story. Like all good books, our own story should be a good read—it should have adventure, new insights, an engaging plot with twists—and it should make the reader want to follow to the end.
So how was your summer story? Was it enough to strengthen you for the seasons ahead? Were you challenged enough to see a need for change? Did you pray and reflect enough to see the Almighty in Creation around you and in the eyes of someone else? Was your summer enough to make you want to say to September, “Bring on the new season, feed me anew and open my eyes to changes that I need to effect, that justice and peace, truth and reconciliation may be more than words, but action.”