One of my favorite times in the modern church year is the ecumenical “Season of Creation.” The Season of Creation begins September 1 (the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation) and ends October 4, otherwise known as the festival of St. Francis of Assisi, when many of our congregations celebrate a blessing of pets and animals or already plan an outdoor or nature-themed service. More information about the Season of Creation, including worship, study, and activity resources, can be found at seasonofcreation.org. This year’s theme is “Let Justice and Peace Flow” from Amos 5:24, which lends itself to countless interactive learning and worship activities perfect for the embodied and understandably relevant learning that helps our youth thrive.
Many of our youth programs honor Earth Day in April, a perfect time for planting and garden-centered learning and service. The autumn timing of the Season of Creation invites us to expand that foundation and make a more personal connection with the justice aspect of creation care. What happens to children who play in soil polluted with lead paint or factory waste? Who are the people most likely to live near dump sites and factories? What other regions or countries are affected by dams that power our electricity but cut off water supply to neighbors further down the river? Who is harmed by the disposing of feces from factory farms into waterways?
The Season of Creation can be an opportunity to explore locally specific challenges that uplift the necessity of community engagement, outreach, and partnership. It can also be a wonderful connector to global mission and the importance of understanding not just creation, but human relationships, as a great web of shared experience and consequence. Testing local streams and soil with kits from a local house and garden supply store, writing letters to legislators, visiting a sustainable farm, cooking using organic ingredients, neighborhood trash clean-ups, or creating helpful posters to remind family and friends to turn off lights, ride bikes, and walk when possible are all great ways to connect creation care with human life and a journey toward justice.