Season of Creation – Season of Grace by Mary-Anne Rulfs
Last week Stewart wrote brilliantly about the kaleidoscope that is the Anglican church.
And yet the Anglican Church is part of the much bigger, richer, complex kaleidoscope that is the Christian church around the world where followers of Christ are shaped by their particular Christian tradition and accompanying lens through which the scriptures are understood, as well as cultural and political influences. (Scripture. Tradition. Reason.) This provides a fascinating array of ways through which the Christian church is expressed and present as the body of Christ, revealing who God is through serving communities all around the world in many and diverse ways. By God’s grace.
While such diversity certainly opens the way for disagreement and even division, at its best, it offers a magnificent opportunity for the Church to be gospel-oriented and people-focussed so that the kingdom of God becomes possible and accessible for all. This requires effective collaboration with others, attentive listening to others, compassionate care for others – and a commitment to living authentically as a disciple of Christ by those who comprise the Church.
One of the ways the different expressions of the global church come together each year is through the worldwide celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home that is called Season of Creation.
Season of Creation is observed each year from September 1 to October 4 where Christians from around the globe share a common call to care for creation – to care for all that God has made. This opportunity to explore safeguarding our common home and all beings who share it, including through Scripture, prayer and worship, highlights that our wellbeing is interwoven with the wellbeing of the Earth.
This year’s theme for the season is Listen to the Voice of Creation, providing an opportunity to consider which voices in God’s creation are heard, and which are muted. Certainly this has political connotations. We needn’t shy away from Jesus’ example – as Christians, we are called to consider how the voices of those who have been unjustly muted might be liberated.
Season of Creation is also an opportunity to be reminded that listening to nature can be a way of communing with God. The 2022 Season of Creation celebration guide puts it this way:
The Psalmist (19: 1-4) acknowledges that hearing the voice of creation requires a kind of listening that is increasingly rare. Within the ecumenical Christian family, there is a diverse range of traditions to help us recover our capacity to hear the voice of creation. Some of the earliest Christian writings refer to the concept of creation as a book from which knowledge of God can be read. The theological tradition of the book of creation runs like a golden thread from the writings of Origen through the Patristic writers such as Tertullian, Basil of Caesarea and others.
Like the Psalmist, St. Maximus reminds us that the entire cosmos praises and glorifies God ‘with silent voices’, and that praise is not heard until we give it a voice, until we praise God in and with creation. St. Augustine writes, “[Creation] is the divine page that you must listen to; it is the book of the universe that you must observe. The pages of Scripture can only be read by those who know how to read and write, while everyone, even the illiterate, can read the book of the universe.” Martin Luther wrote, “God has written [the gospel] not only in books, but also in trees and other creatures.”
From 18 September – 23 October we will use the theme Season of Creation – Season of Grace to continue exploring the kaleidoscope of God’s grace through our lived experience of Christian community, as well as considering how we might live on the earth in grace-filled ways that honour and respect those with whom we share our planet.
I love that holding our Market Day and launching Community Connect have come at this time. Such grass-roots ways of being Christian community for others in our wider community.
The metaphor of the global human family has been particularly poignant this week as we have seen people from all around the world extend their heartfelt gratitude and respect for the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II, including those who live in countries beyond the nations of the Commonwealth. At this time, diverse people are clearly united in their grief and devotion. I can’t help wondering whether the phrases we are hearing – Queen Elizabeth’s commitment to service, her faithfulness and constancy, and her authentic way of being present with people no matter their background (while always shrouded in the mystery of what it means to be a monarch) – reflect the yearnings of people’s hearts for these qualities. The qualities that Jesus Christ demonstrates in full measure.
How might this reminder serve to strengthen our resolve to play our part in caring for creation and the global human family, and to advocate for the liberating of voices that have been unjustly muted. To be heard is to be known and loved.
While God remains far greater than our capacity to imagine or explain God, that we are called to reveal God through Christ as the Holy Spirit inspires and resources us is the extraordinary privilege of each and every Christian. Caring for creation and all who live on the Earth is part of that call on our lives.
I look forward to journeying with you through this Season Creation – Season of Grace.