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Eco-Themed Worship Services Guidelines

Guidelines, resources and tips for developing an ecologically-themed worship service.

 

Transformation Through Worship

Worship Service Solar Panels
A church celebrates their solar panels with a worship service outdoors on the roof.

 

Worship is the adoration of God for God's sake, an adoration that also transforms the worshipers in ways that bring them into consonance with the divine. How can we worship God as creator and redeemer of nature in such a way that we care for and defend the earth God has created? Reflect on the ways your own tradition might incorporate creation concerns into the following aspects of worship:

  • Praise: We can praise God for who God is as creator of all that is. We can celebrate the wonder of creation and marvel at God's handiwork. We can also see creation -- animals, flowers, trees, hills -- as partners in our worship of God as we "let all creation praise the Lord."
  • Thanksgiving: We can thank God for every living creature and for the earth that sustains them. Our thanks can reinforce our human dependence on all of nature for life and health.
  • Confession: We can confess the greed and indifference by which we humans have despoiled the earth, harmed plants and animals, and placed human life in jeopardy. We can acknowledge the ways in which the poor have suffered most from the devastation of the environment. Forgiveness can free us to act out of compassion rather than out of guilt or fear.
  • Proclamation: We can announce the love of God for creation, the grace that God offers, and the mandates God gives as means for humans to address the eco-justice problems of our age and to make the commitments we need to make. Proclamation can challenge us and inspire us to transformation.
  • Offering: We can offer ourselves as agents of God to be guardians of nature, stewards of its resources, lovers of life, earthkeepers, and caretakers of the land -- to maintain, redeem and restore all that God has created.
  • Prayer: We can offer prayers for the creation, particularly for endangered species, for threatened ecosystems, and for changing global conditions. We can pray for the courage to do something about this.
  • Existing Practices: We can find ways to bring out 'green' elements in our existing practices.  Identify the Holy Days in your tradition with a "care for creation" emphasis, hold a service of the blessing of the animals, hold a fall service of thanksgiving and share the harvest with the poor, make your worship space greenery native, local and/or organic.
  • New Practices: We can embrace new ways of celebrating and worshiping that espouse care for creation.  Celebrate Earth Day, hold a 'greening of the cross' service in Lent, place banners or other symbols of care for creation in your worship area, or hold a worship service outdoors.

Worship not only celebrates God as creator but infuses worshipers with the desire and the wherewithal to heal and guard God's creation. Care for creation should become a natural and integral part of worship, leading it to be a normal expression of our love for God, love for others, and love of nature.

 

Resources

Christian

  • Eco-Justice Ministries in Denver has written a useful article that offers thoughts on effective sermons on the environment.
  • The Christian Ecological Link, a British website, has created a useful resource containing ecological reflections on many readings from common Christian lectionaries.
  • Earth Ministry, an ecumenical Christian organization based in Seattle, has collected a number of eco-worship resources on their website.

Jewish

  • COEJL also offers a booklet with suggestions about integrating ecological themes into life-cycle celebrations.

Islamic

All Traditions

  • Here is a Powerpoint file which contains a number of images of the natural world that can be used in worship-related settings. The end of the presentation is a slideshow to accompany a hymn from the United Methodist Hymnal. It works extremely well when set to music.

 

 



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