Christian leaders pray for reconciliation and ‘Jubilee for the Earth'

Representatives of different Christian churches and ecumenical organizations gathered online to mark the closing of the 2020 Season of Creation and pray for a ‘Jubilee for the Earth’. Photo: LWF/JC Valeriano
Representatives of different Christian churches and ecumenical organizations gathered online to mark the closing of the 2020 Season of Creation and pray for a ‘Jubilee for the Earth’. Photo: LWF/JC Valeriano

LWF General Secretary joins ecumenical online worship service to close Season of Creation 

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary, Rev. Dr Martin Junge joined representatives of other Christian world communions and ecumenical communities on 4 October for an online prayer service to close the 2020 Season of Creation. The annual season of prayer and action, which runs from September 1st to the feast of St Francis of Assisi on 4 October, was dedicated this year to the theme of ‘Jubilee for the Earth’ 

The LWF General Secretary said we should not forget that the global ecological crisis is human induced. At the same time, he affirmed, “it is a spiritual matter. As people of faith, we are called to live in right relationship with creation and not exhaust it.” 

The ecumenical liturgy, which included music, intercessions, readings and reflections, opened with a prayer for creation from the Episcopal Bishop in Cuba, Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado and the words of St Francis’ Canticle of the Sun, read by Msgr. Bruno Duffé from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development.  

Representing the Orthodox leader, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, considered a pioneer in the field of environmental theology, Rev. Dr John Chryssavgis highlighted “the primacy of spiritual values in determining environmental ethics.” Reflecting on the relationship between jubilee and reconciliation, he spoke of the “ecumenical imperative of creation care,” noting that “the earth unites us all, before and beyond any doctrinal, political, racial or other differences.” 

Restoring broken relationships 

Dr Agnes Abuom from the Anglican Church of Kenya, moderator of the World Council of Churches, noted the way that the COVID-19 pandemic has “reminded us of humanity’s broken relationships with creation and with each other.” The virus has exposed and exacerbated inequalities and injustices present at national and international levels, she said, but it also offers faith communities an opportunity to “chart the way forward to bring healing and transformation” in order to restore justice and dignity to those relationships. 

Franciscan Sister Sheila Kinsey spoke on behalf of the International Union of Superiors General that brings together the leaders of Catholic women religious around the globe. She talked about a project called ‘Sowing Hope for the Planet’ that sisters in many countries have been engaged in to implement the core messages of the papal encyclical ‘Laudato Si’: on Care for our Common Home.’ 

In his reflection, LWF leader Junge noted the many ways in which Lutheran churches worldwide have been responding to the call for care of creation, including the installation of solar powered water pumps in Chad and a tree planting project in Tanzania. The Season of Creation, he said, is “one way that our member churches become more theologically grounded in their teaching on human dignity, our identity as creatures, our relationship to the land and the true value of creation.” 

All creation is connected 

Speaking of “the far-reaching effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Junge noted how the virus has “unmasked the manifold ways that our lives are connected.” At the same time, he said it has pointed to “the wisdom at the heart of our Christian faith, that all creation is connected, which is a source of redemptive and restorative hope.”  

This wisdom, he continued, illustrates how “our liberation lies in a return to our identity as members of the Earth community,” since “freedom that doesn’t remember we are mutually bound together only leaves us captive to our self.” Knit together by baptism as one Christian family, Junge said, “we strive for the holy imagination and courage to live anew as God intended,” free from the “economic and social yoke of vicious production and consumption that causes ecological destruction and the gendered, racial and intergenerational injustices of climate change.” 

What better way to proclaim this holistic jubilee, than together as one Christian family, knit together by baptism in the body in Christ. 
LWF General Secretary, Rev. Dr Martin Junge

Rev. Dr Chad Rimmer, LWF’s Program Executive for Identity, Communion and Formation and chair of the Season of Creation steering committee, highlighted the way this annual ecumenical initiative “unites the whole Christian family in a liturgical time of prayer and bold ecumenical action.” He added: “Our global solidarity is a sign of the integral nature of the Earth community, and the visible unity of the Church. We hope this ecumenical solidarity sustains our vocation to till and keep the Earth in the months to come, until we open the Season of Creation in 2021!” 

Also taking part in the online liturgy were leaders of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the World Evangelical Alliance, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches. The prayer service concluded with a blessing by LWF’s Vice-President for Africa, Rev. Jeanette Ada Maina from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cameroon.  

 

Watch the full service here:  

Season of Creation videos

LWF Season of Creation page

Many churches in the ecumenical family observe the “Season of Creation” (also known as Creation Time) between 1 September and 4 October, the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, as observed by some Western traditions. For the Lutheran communion, this liturgical season of prayer and action is an opportunity to affirm LWF’s commitment to address a central crisis of our time – climate change. “Jubilee for the Earth” is the 2020 theme for the “Season of Creation”.

Jubilee for the Earth: Season of Creation 2020 Celebration Guide