In a 1989 letter, the late Dimitrios I, the leader of Eastern Orthodox Church, urged the global church to make September 1 a day "when prayers and supplications should be offered for all Creation and for the reparation of the impairment caused to the natural environment."
And now, 27 years later, the movement has expanded significantly.
As concern for the environment and climate change grows, many protestant denominations have joined with the Eastern Orthodox Church in marking the World Day of Prayer for Creation. And last year, just ahead of the historic Paris climate talks, Pope Francis declared that Roman Catholics would also adopt the practice of praying for creation on the first day of September every year. Some churches now celebrate the "Season of Creation," beginning on September 1 with the Orthodox commemoration of how God created the world and ending with the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4.
Christian concern for the well-being of the Earth links back to the earliest creation stories. In Genesis 1:31, God looks on creation and declares it to be "very good." God then entrusts it to humans to "serve" (abad) and "preserve" (shamar) (Genesis 2:15). Through a sense of wonder with creation, people of faith are invited to seek insights into God's will for a just society, a fair economy, and a flourishing land.
The increasing importance of creation care as a religious theme has been demonstrated by the many people of faith across the world. Praying for creation, fasting for the climate, and engaging in environmental activities have all become part of their regular expression of faith. These faith-filled actions offer hope that the world may yet come together to prioritize the health and well-being of all creation.
The World Day of Prayer and the Season of Creation have special significance for Canadians this year.
Our government launched its climate consultations on Earth Day, when they signed the Paris Agreement. These consultations have now concluded. Thousands of Canadians have made submissions to the government's portal and hundreds more have participated in town hall discussions in communities across the country. Recognizing climate change as the moral issue of our time, many people of faith have enthusiastically contributed their valuable perspective to this conversation.
And now, as we enter the Season of Creation, we begin a period of waiting, of anticipation. Informed by the submissions received, thematic working groups will present reports to the federal, provincial, and territorial environment ministers this month. The ministers in turn, will present recommended options to the prime minister and premiers for consideration in October. They will establish a pan-Canadian climate plan that will be put into effect in 2017.
Many Canadian people of faith will be watching intently when the government unveils its new plan. They'll want to see how citizens' concerns and recommendations for bold climate action are actually reflected. They'll want to know which emissions reduction mechanisms are accepted; the extent of investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and mass transportation; and how those vulnerable to both the impact of climate change and climate action are supported.
Though the formal consultation is finished, many Canadian Christians will continue to express their concerns and their hopes for the future. They will actively seek to live into God's call to care for creation. Throughout this Season of Creation -- and beyond -- they will also pray for God's glorious Earth and all that is in it.
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