Care of Creation Confession

September 15, 2019

Rod Oram

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In the name of God the Creator, Christ the Cosmic One, and the Spirit the Sustainer, Amen.

 

Every time I’ve come to any church to worship, I like to sit close to the front, on the left, on the aisle.

 

I’m such a creature of habit – of very deeply ingrained habit.

 

One of my earliest memories of church is sitting right there. Because that’s where my father always led our family to each Sunday. And that’s where I still gravitate to today.

 

Long ago, I fell into another deep habit. A rather worse one. At every Eucharist, I resort to my same little litany of sins. I cruise through Confession on auto-pilot.

 

Then a few years ago in my parish, St Andrew’s Epsom, I made for the first time a very different Confession in our Season of Creation Eucharist.

 

Repeating it in subsequent services made it no easier a Confession for me to make.

 

It was so confronting. In making it, I admitted I was massacring the abundant life God creates. I admitted I had shattered my relationship with God and his creation.

 

Yet I know God wants me to confess my ecological sins…so he can forgive me…so I have the hope, and courage to try to restore my relationship with his creation.

 

So, in that Spirit, please may I suggest we now make that same Creation Confession. I will read about each day of God’s seven days of creation. I will take one day at a time, followed by our mirror day of destruction.

 

With each of those I’ll offer some facts about our destructive behaviour; and then some suggestions about what we might do to help heal our relationship with God and his creation.

 

And then together we will give thanks and praise to God for his forgiveness and for his great abundance.

 

We will do so by reading together a verse or two of the Benedicite Aotearoa…not in the order they’re written!

 

So, would you like to turn please to the Benedicite, which is on page 63 of the prayer books in your pews. To give much credit where its due, the Benedicite was written especially for the prayer book by the Rev Bruce Keeley, when he and his wife Diane were vicars of St Albans, the co-operating parish at Chartwell in Hamilton, before they were vicars for many years at All Saints Howick.

 

A Confession for the Season of Creation

 

On the first day of creation you split the darkness and created light.

 

On the first day of destruction

we split the atom, exploded nuclear devices,

and created a black mist of death.

 

Nine nations have a total of 14,900 nuclear warheads. If just one of the most powerful ever built – Russia’s Tsar Bomba – was dropped on New York, it would kill 7.6m people, injure 4.2m more, and spread radioactive fallout over 8,000 sq km killing and injuring many millions more.

 

To help repair our relationship with creation, we could, for example, relate well to each other.

 

When we settle our differences and work together, communities thrive; When our communities thrive, our nation thrives. When our nation thrives, we can help other nations relate better to each other…so together we can rid the world of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

 

So, let’s read together verses 8 and 9 of the Benedicite Aotearoa:

 

8. You Maori and Pakeha, women and men,
all who inhabit the long white cloud:
give to our God your thanks and praise.


9. All you saints and martyrs of the South Pacific:
give to our God your thanks and praise.

 

(…that is the nuclear-free South Pacific!)

 

On the second day of creation you created the sky filled with clouds, stars and fresh air.

 

On the second day of destruction

we began burning fossil fuels,

pumping fumes into the sky

and created pollution.

 

Since 1950, emissions from burning fossil fuels have increased nearly 7-fold (to more than 10bn tonnes a year); as a result, temperatures are rising and the climate is changing. With this, we are deeply damaging the ecosystem, our life-support system, which God created.

 

To help repair our relationship with creation, we could, for example, drive less; or use more public transport; or walk more…and rejoice in nature.

 

Let’s read together verse 3 of the Benedicite Aotearoa:

 

3. Sunrise and sunset, night and day:
give to our God your thanks and praise.

 

On the third day of creation

you gathered together the waters

revealing earth, the source of rich vegetation,

forests, streams, and seeds for new life.

 

On the third day of destruction

we began to strip the land,

creating barren plains,

then we began to woodchip and burn the forests,

removing over half Earth’s vegetation

in less than a human lifetime.

 

We humans actively manage 75% of the land surface of the planet (excluding that covered by permanent ice and snow). Through our faming, mining, deforestation and other activities we move more of the earth’s surface each year than nature does.

 

To help repair our relationship with creation, we could, for example, eat less meat; grow some of our own food; and compost our food waste.

 

Let’s read together verses 4 and 5 of the Benedicite Aotearoa:

 

4. All mountains and valleys, grassland and scree,
glacier, avalanche, mist and snow:
give to our God your thanks and praise.

 

5. You kauri and pine, rata and kowhai, mosses and ferns:
give to our God your thanks and praise.

 

On the fourth day of creation

You created the sun and the moon

and differentiated the day, the night and the seasons.

 

On the fourth day of destruction

we threw aerosols up into the sky,

ripping apart the protective ozone above,

and changing sunlight from friend to foe.

 

We’ve changed the chemicals we use in aerosol sprays, so the ozone hole is shrinking. But our ultraviolet levels are high because we have less air pollution than many other countries.

 

However, we create other kinds of aerosols such as very, very fine particles from the likes of airborne soil, or dust, or indeed from diesel engines.

 

To help repair our relationship with creation, we could, for the high UV – slip, slop, slap and wrap (slip on shirt and/or into shade; slop on sunscreen; slap on a hat; wrap on sunglasses).

 

For airborne particles, try to avoid creating dust in its many forms; if you have a diesel-engine vehicle, trade it in for a petrol or electric one.

 

And another way to help repair our relationship with creation, is to immerse ourselves in God’s amazingly clear, bright, night skies.

 

Let’s read together verse 2 of the Benedicite Aotearoa:

 

2. You sun and moon, you stars of the southern sky:
give to our God your thanks and praise.

 

On the fifth day of creation

you called the sea and air to bring forth life

of many kinds for the wonder and delight of all.

 

On the fifth day of destruction

we created DDT, killing the fish of the seas

and destroying unborn birds of the air.

 

Very, very little DDT is still used today. But many of our continuing activities are destroying natural habitats. Thus, of our 30 indigenous species of marine mammals – one quarter are threatened with extinction. We have 92 species and sub-species of indigenous seabirds - one-third are threatened with extinction; and a further half are at risk of extinction.

 

To help repair our relationship with creation, we could, for example, join Forest & Bird; fish wisely; help with a marine or land conservation project.

 

Let’s read together verse 6 of the Benedicite Aotearoa:

 

6. Dolphins and kahawai, sealion and crab,
coral, anemone, pipi and shrimp:
give to our God your thanks and praise.

 

On the sixth day of creation

you watched as the creatures of the land emerged,

crawling, leaping, and playing games of life.

 

On the sixth day of destruction

we looked away as multitudes of species

disappeared through our destruction of their environments.

 

Of our 168 species of native birds, just 20% are doing OK, 48% are in some trouble, and 32% are in serious trouble. Of our native plant species, one third are threatened with extinction; likewise, our indigenous bugs!

 

To help repair our relationship with creation, we could, for example, in our gardens, plant natives to help our native bugs, animals and birds multiply; trap predators; keep our cats in at night; and put a bell on them.

 

Let’s read together verse 7 of the Benedicite Aotearoa:

 

7. Rabbits and cattle, moths and dogs
kiwi and sparrow and tui and hawk:
give to our God your thanks and praise.

 

On the seventh day of creation

you gave creation the blessing of rest

to celebrate and sustain all life.

 

On the seventh day of destruction

we created the relentless drive for progress,

exploiting all life to increase profit.

 

Since 1950, we humans have trebled to 7.5bn; but our economic activity has increased 8-fold (to US$65 trillion); our water use has quadrupled (to 4,100 cu km a year); the number of motor vehicles has increase 7-fold to 1.3bn; our use of paper has increased 8-fold, our use of fertiliser has increased 18-fold.

 

To help repair our relationship with creation, we could, for example: Buy wisely, buy less; and with our material possessions, reduce, repair, and recycle. And instead of possessions, we could enjoy the rich diversity of each other, and the simple things in life.

 

Let’s read together verses 10, 11 and 12 of the Benedicite Aotearoa:
 

10. All prophets and priests, all cleaners and clerks,

professors, shop workers, typists and teachers,

job-seekers, invalids, drivers and doctors:

 give to our God your thanks and praise.

 

11. All sweepers and diplomats, writers and artists,

grocers, carpenters, students and stock-agents,

seafarers, farmers, bakers and mystics:

 give to our God your thanks and praise.

 

12. All children and infants, all people who play:

give to our God your thanks and praise.

 

We rarely think about these issues of God’s creation…the ecology, life support system, he has given us.

 

If we do, we salve our conscience, saying “my impact is so tiny.”

 

When we do feel responsible, we feel helpless. What difference can I make?

 

Yet, when we confess to God, he forgives us…and gives us courage to try again.

 

He asks only that we each play our tiny, tiny part in his creation.

 

If an infinite number of us each do our infinitesimally small bit, we can together restore our relationship with creation, and with God.

 

Let’s read together verse 1 of the Benedicite Aotearoa:

 

1. O give thanks to our God who is good:
whose love endures forever.

 

Amine.

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