Deans' Note September 5, 2021

Our nation faces increasing effects of global climate change right now. Historically dry areas are becoming drier while wetter areas become wetter. While the western United States experiences unprecedented increases in heat and drought, the east sees increased hurricanes, rainstorms and flooding. In large part this is the result of human indifference to the plight of our planet.

What does the wisdom of our Jewish and Christian tradition teach us about our environmental crisis? First, God commands us to be in relationship with all created beings. The Bible doesn't see the animal world or even trees and plants as objects or things, but as creatures like us with whom we are related and connected. The covenant God makes with all creation after the story of the flood in the Book of Genesis is a perfect example. Second, while the bible begins in a garden, the Christian Bible ends in a city -- but not just any city, a new creation integrating both human community and the natural world.

The climate changes we experience are a symptom of an environment responding to our human pride and selfishness. The earth itself gives prophetic warning. We need to take the Bible's wisdom seriously. Each year we set aside a season we call Creationtide, Sundays in the early fall, where we emphasize our role as stewards of creation and our relationship with all our fellow creatures. When we bless animals, it's not just a cute thing to do. We acknowledge ritually, that these creatures are signs for us of the role we must play in caring deeply about all our brothers and sisters -- lakes and rivers, trees and fields, soil, fish, bird, and animals, along with our fellow human beings.

So beginning September 12 through September 26 let's again think about creation and take seriously the ways we have damaged the right ordering of our our relationship with the earth, and again hold up God's dream of a new creation and ask how we can actively seek ways to repair the damage we have done knowing that our lack of care has consequences we see clearly even now. We again will have the blessing of the animals Saturday, September 11th at 10 am, and on Sunday the 12th and the 26th our adult forums will focus on environmental ethics where we will explore these questions together more deeply.

As we prepare for this season, we invite you to use the following prayer as part of your daily reflection. It is one the prayers we will use liturgically during Creationtide:

Holy God, your mercy is over all your works,

and in the web of life each creature has its role and place.

We praise you for ocelot and owl, cactus and kelp, lichen and whale;

we honor you for whirlwind and lava, tide and topsoil, cliff and marsh.

Give us hearts and minds eager to care for your planet,

humility to recognize all creatures as your beloved ones,

justice to share the resources of the earth with all its inhabitants,

and love not limited by our ignorance.

This we pray in the name of Jesus,

who unifies what is far off and what is near,

and in whom, by grace and the working of your Holy Spirit,

all things hold together. Amen.