- This resource was written and compiled by Sally Staniforth, Guildford URC and reproduced here for the Season of Creation 2021
- This work may be shared freely, with attribution, without modification
This service was put together for Guildford United Reformed Church’s Climate Sunday service in July 2021. It is suitable for congregations where discussion can be facilitated, including online, in person or a hybrid of the two. It includes an Ignatian-style meditation. You may wish to use it as a starting point for your own Climate Sunday service and adapt it for your own context.
A resource sheet full of bitesize information for distribution before the service is available.
Welcome and outline of our service
Today we will be exploring our relationship with the world we live in, through songs, Bible readings, a short video and a time of personal reflection. There will be opportunity to meet with Jesus and to share our thoughts. Towards the end of our time together we will have a time of intercession.
Introduce Creation Sunday
Churches across Britain have been holding Climate Sunday services as a means of drawing our attention to the need for God’s family to take responsibility for the care of the Earth that God created. In November this year, Britain will host the UN’s climate talks (COP26), so now is the time for us to encourage our politicians to take faster, and truly meaningful, action to reduce our carbon footprint and give the Earth an opportunity to heal.
This service is not intended to point a finger, or make anyone feel guilty or judged. It’s a time to contemplate as we are encouraged to turn our attention to our God-ordained place in, and relationship with, the Earth.
The Lord set in motion an eco-system that was naturally balanced so that all living things could benefit and thrive, each connected to and reliant on the others. Since the Fall, that perfection has been broken. But the birth of the Industrial Revolution began an ever-increasing level of misuse of resources, pollution and destruction across the globe. Not only have species been lost and land laid waste, but millions of our siblings in the developing world have been, and are, suffering as their lands are parched and they and their livestock starve. The resource sheet includes a case study at the bottom which briefly explains how the life of a woman in Ethiopia called Orbisa has been affected.
Each of us probably knows a little about conservation, eco systems and pollution, but perhaps few of us have studied or investigated the issues in depth to gain real knowledge.
We may avoid buying products cased in plastic, where possible; we may walk, cycle or use public transport when we can; we may sort our rubbish and recycle as much as possible, all of which is good. Some would say it makes little difference, but if nothing else it serves to keep us aware of our need to do something, and it reduces the amount of non-recyclable plastic being sent to distant countries, where it clogs rivers, kills fish and devastates the livelihoods of many poor families.
Perhaps the more recent fires, floods and prolonged doubts that the ‘first world’ has begun to suffer, plus the ravages of a deadly virus that has brought our proud economies to a standstill, will serve to wake us up to the crisis the natural world, including human beings, is facing – the Climate Emergency we must recognise and address.
God of all creation,
your goodness and glory
shines through everything you have made.
Through the light of faith,
help us to see this world, our common home,
not as a resource to dominate and exploit,
but as a gift to be cherished by all generations.
Prompted by your Spirit,
and in honour and worship of you,
may we be willing to change our ways,
and passionate about caring for the Earth
you call us to take care of.
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
through whom all creation was made.
Creation sings the Father’s song
Voice 1: Genesis 1
Voice 2: Genesis 2:1, 5-9a, 15, 19
If the fields are parched
Bible Study by the Revd David Coleman,
URC Special Category Minister, Chaplain to Eco-Congregation
Any comments? A moment to reflect
Introduce the meditation
The Ignatian meditation style we are about to use is based on a course called ‘Take Time’. It begins with a relaxation exercise which prepares us to hear Jesus speak through one of his parables.
Explain the meditation
Begin by making sure that you are sitting comfortably with your back supported by your chair.
The session will commence with a simple relaxation exercise and then I will then count us down from 10 to 1, into a state of relaxation.
This will be followed by a guided Ignatian style meditation in which we imagine an encounter with Jesus. Even if you know very little about Jesus, your imagination will fill in the gaps.
I will then explain how you can spend the following several minutes, either resting in God’s presence or returning to the story.
Don’t worry if your mind wanders. Often it wanders to places that bring insight or healing. If it wanders somewhere unhelpful, gently bring it back.
At the end of the meditation, I will bring you back to this time and this place by counting back up from 1 to 10. The session finishes with a few minutes of gentle music.
Begin the meditation
Closing our eyes, we breathe through the nose and out through the mouth. We start at the top of our bodies, and let any tension we are holding on to in our muscles ease away. Working our way through our eyebrows, our mouths, our necks, arms and fingers, legs, until we reach our toes.
[Count gently from 10 down to 1].
The meditation today is based on the parable of the talents.
When you hear the word ‘talents’ used, think of them instead as being each servant’s sphere and level of influence in their everyday life.
Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives when and his disciples came to him with questions about the end times.
Imagine yourself amongst them, surrounded by olive trees, feeling the warmth of the air and looking at Jesus as he tells a parable.
[Read Matthew 25:14-30]
The other disciples move away a little to consider the implications of what they have just heard, but you remain where you are. Jesus turns and comes over and sits by you. He looks at you.
Be conscious of Jesus’s presence beside you. In the silence of this moment, hear him as he invites you to share with him whatever is in your heart and whatever is on your mind. Take the opportunity now to share with him.
[Pause for one minute]
And now, listen as Jesus responds to what you have shared with him. Just be open to his response, whether it be in actions, or as a feeling, or an image, or in words. Hear him speak your name [pause 3 seconds] and wait for his response.
[Pause for 30 seconds]
Hold on to anything that Jesus has shared with you, hold on to your feelings, and either:
- Be still in God’s presence, resting in the warmth of His love, gently bringing yourself back to that place of peace each time you notice your mind has wandered, or
- Return to the story and ask yourself who you might be, how that might feel and what is God showing you through that experience.
So, either rest in God’s presence or return to the story.
[Pause for 2 to 10 minutes depending on the time available]
Now, very gently and very slowly, bring your thoughts back to this time and this place as I count us back up from 1 to 10.
One [pause 3 seconds], two [pause 3 seconds], three [pause 3 seconds], … ten.
Music for reflection (played quietly during time of sharing)
Does anyone feel able to share anything from their time with Jesus?
Respond as the Holy Spirit leads.
Prayers of intercession and The Lord’s Prayer
He’s got the whole world in his hands
To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfil by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
(2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; 2:16-17, NRSVA)