Creation Time 2012

Creation Time this year will be from 1st September until 4th October 2012.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have produced a range of resources for churches to use in Creation Time on the theme of sustainable energy to mark the UN Year of Sustainable Energy for All in 2012. CTBI resources include sermon notes, prayers, a discussion group resource, and The Gift – an outdoor, midweek, celebration of harvest.

Download all the CTBI resources here

Operation Noah have also prepared sermon notes and prayers for use during Creation Time. The notes are based around the Lectionary readings and combine insights from the bible passages with themes from Operation Noah’s Ash Wednesday Declaration regarding climate change.

Download the Operation Noah resources here

You can find other resources aimed at Creation TIde from previous years at: www.earthingfaith.org/creation-tide

Mystic Christ Wheel Of The Year

Bruce Stanley, Steve Hollinghurst and Stu McLellan have created a beautiful new resource designed to take people through the year, not with the 12 months but with 8 seasons of fire festivals, solar festivals and corresponding Christian and Celtic celebrations. Each plate gives information about the season, corresponding festivals and ideas of exercises to explore the themes, including exercises, meditations and reflections.

The eight-fold calendar is available from the Mystic Christ website, which is home of the Communities of the Mystic Christ, “a place for spiritual travellers of all traditions interested in exploring Jesus the Christ as a living reality and mystical guide through ancient practices and contemporary thought and experience.”

The Wheel Of The Year Calendar is available at the introductory price of £4.95 for the first 50 sold.

via Wheel Of The Year Calendar |:| Mystic Christ.

Nature Activities to use with children

In support of our article exploring the impact of the growing gap between children and nature below you’ll find a few activities to try out with children  – you can find more activities and download them all to print at: www.aeker.co.uk/blog/nature-activities/

Follow the trail

Awaken the senses and follow a trail of mysterious smells, strange sounds and interesting textures.

You can do this in your garden, a nature reserve or churchyard. Mark a trail using a rope. Tie a knot in the rope to indicate something interesting. A smell to notice.  An object on the ground. Something overhead.

Before you start do a quiet activity. A quiet, receptive mind will increase the enjoyment of the activity. Look at a leaf together and count the veins. See if you can get your arms all the way round a tree. Smell a flower.

If your child is comfortable with it, put a blindfold on them. Then help your child to hold onto the rope and walk along with them. You can walk one after another, but give the person in front enough space to stop and listen.

Encourage your child to feel things as they go along. Changes on the ground. The texture of grass. Something overhead.

If you smell something stop and see if they can smell it too. And of course, guide their steps to keep them safe. Do it as silently as possible, with just gentle observations.

Finish by lying on your backs – if they have had a blindfold on, take it off – and look up and see what you can see. Ask your child to tell you what they see.

Nature table

Making a space at home where you can put your finds from nature is a great way to share it with others, remind you of being outdoors on wet days and inspire craft projects.

A place where you walk by often is good, as you and your children will see it in the day to day of life. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple wooden crate on the stairs. A bowl on a sideboard. A plate next to the telephone.

Collect things as you go for walks and make that an activity. Leaves, seeds, stones, twigs, shells…

Scavenger hunt

Choose some things to collect from the list below. Guide the children in thinking creatively and looking closely, and in only collecting appropriate, safe things.

– A feather
– Exactly 100 of something
– Three different types of seed
– Something round
– Something fuzzy
– Something that reminds you of yourself
– Something soft
– Something beautiful

More nature activities

Find more activities, and to download the above, visit: www.aeker.co.uk/blog/nature-activities/

Resources to explore

www.outdoornation.org.uk | www.50things.org.uk | www.goingwild.net

Rogation Sunday – May 13th, 2012

My first experience of Rogation was over 35 years ago when I was a young Curate in an urban fringe community.  The Vicar decided it was time to celebrate Rogation by walking the boundaries of the parish – all 26 miles. The young Curate was detailed to lead the walk. I still have the photo –it was probably the last and only time I wore shorts and a clerical collar, and an orange hat!! The original idea of beating of the bounds was to educate young people about the waymarks or boundary posts of the parish. No googleearth or sat nav in those days! The myth that the clergy beat the young at each waymark to impress them upon the memory is probably just that – a myth!! The procession to beat the bounds [boundaries] would often included pausing at different points to pray for God’s blessing on the community and on the land.

Rogationtide is primarily a festival of prayer lasting for the four days before the feast of the Ascension. The word Rogation comes from the word Rogo meaning to ask (rogo, rogare, rogavi, rogatus) “Ask and it shall be given”(Matthew 7 verse 7). The connection of Rogation with agriculture probably links back to the ancient Roman festival of Robigalia when the goddess Robigo, who had the power to bring rust or mildew to crops, was petitioned for mercy to allow the goddess Ceres to do her work and bring forth a good harvest (from “Certes” we get the word “cereals”!) Both Ovid and Cato refer to the sacrificing of dogs as part of the festival and Ovid’s priest prays: “Scaly Robigo, god of rust, spare Ceres’ grain; let silky blades quiver on the soil’s skin. Let growing crops be nourished by a friendly sky and stars, until they ripen for the scythe… Spare us, I pray keep scabrous hands from the harvest. Harm no crops. The power to harm is enough” (Fasti, IV.911ff).

Rust, or mildew, is something which farmers still hope to keep away from their growing crops. If you are an avid fan of the Archers like me, you may occasionally hear farmhouse kitchen talk about spraying crops against rust. But farmers no longer sacrifice dogs as part of the process and where churches hold prayer walks around farms the only dogs are those ones which are well behaved and on a lead accompanying members of the congregation on the walk. At Christian rogation services the crops are “sprayed “with blessing prayers and the God of creation is prayed to for the success of the growing season

Rogation services are also an opportunity to thank farmers for their work in bring in the harvest and playing their – essential –part in providing for our food. So Rogation today reminds us afresh about the importance of farming alongside three other agricultural fesitivals, Plough Sunday, Lammas and Harvest.

Someone has said if you eat you are concerned about farming. Hands up all those who eat! That is why Rogation still captures the imagination of many people who turn out for prayer walks on farms. It also helps people to make a renewed connection with the land. Genesis 2 vs 5 – 8 suggests that the primary purpose of creating humankind was to till and work the soil. A rogation prayer walk might also visit allotments or even someone’s kitchen garden as part of the procession.

As we make those connections with our food we pray for those whose work it is to provide that food. Farming is an occupation – a way of life – with mixed fortunes, dependent on the vagaries of the market and the weather. The Farm Crisis Network, (www.fcn.org.uk) a Christian voluntary organisation which works in support of those in the farming community whose family or business life has met with adversity, can tell stories of financial and personal problems which belies the public perception that everything down on the farm is rosy.

Farmers are also custodians and guardians of the countryside. Much of what people see and enjoy in the countryside has been shaped by farming practices. Many farmers are changing their practices as they come to understand more about climate change. And there are a number of campaigns and organisations working with farmers to help them further protect and enhance the environment whilst at the same time continuing to provide food for us: see for example Campaign for the Farmed Environment (http://www.cfeonline.org.uk/ ) and LEAF http://www.leafuk.org/leaf/home.eb

Many Rogation services take place actually on a farm, sometimes starting or ending in Church and the prayer walk can take in parts of the village to celebrate village life on the way. Resources for celebrating Rogation can be found in “Common Worship: Times and Seasons: Services for the Agricultural Year”, the 2003 SPCK book by The Staffordshire Seven “Seasonal Worship from the Countryside” and from the Arthur Rank Centre website at: http://www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk/component/k2/itemlist/tag/Rogation

Eternal God, creator and sustainer of life, we praise you for the beauty and fertility of the earth. We praise you also for its complexity and mystery, before which we bow in wonder and awe.   Bless all farmers everywhere upon whom we depend for the production and provision of our food, bless the management of the countryside and the husbanding of its resources.  Amen.   (adapted)

Glyn Evans is the Diocesan Rural Officer for the Diocese of Oxford. He blogs at http://ruralofficerdiooxford.blogspot.co.uk/. He can also be found on Twitter at: @dioruralofficer

Hope for Creation – 6 November 2011

On 6 November Hope for Creation, a global day of prayer and action in climate change, will  join tens of thousands of Christians around the world together to pray and speak up for justice for action to protect God’s creation..

Take part at home, with a group of friends or with your whole church. All you need to do is pray as we speak with one voice for action on climate change. A prayer resource and action ideas will be available on the website in the next few months.

Visit www.hopeforcreation.org to find out more about the day and to download resources to help you and your church join in. Email campaigning@tearfund.org or call 0845 355 8355 for more information.

Walking the Earth – Prayer Exercise

Tess Ward shares a prayer exercise for Walking the Earth:

Walking the Earth

This could not be more simple.  Set aside at least half an hour. Find a place of green to walk in.  Either a garden, a field, a wood, a park, a nature reserve, an allotment, a meadow, or if you’re not in Oxford, the sea or mountain. It does not matter if you know it well or have never been there before.  Walk slowly and at a certain point of your choosing, stop.  Look around you.  Pay close attention to all that you see.  Bend down to take a closer look or look up or wherever your eye leads you.  Take time.  Spend at least 5 minutes doing this.  Then walk on and do the same thing again and again until you have completed your walk.

The reason this works is because we don’t do it very often.  We can so easily be outside walking and our mind is full of things that have happened in the past or we are making plans for the future and we can find it hard to stay present and miss what is here now. When we do this outside and notice the wonder of God’s creation it’s not such hard work to feel that we belong to it and to trust the Maker of all, however we felt when we started our walk.

You don’t need any words for this exercise but if you would like some here are some taken from my book.  They are all copyright Tess Ward “The Celtic Wheel of the Year” O-Books 2007

At the beginning

Praise to you for walking in the garden of this lovely day.

The flowers have not yet faded though soon they might.

Some of the blackberries are fat, some tart and some just right.

The nights are falling slowly, and the mellow evening light is warm.

Praise to you in this sacrament of now.

Give me grace to hold this moment that you have given to me,

to cherish it before it passes with the autumn glow,

to gather the fruits that have fallen to the ground,

and to taste the sweetness of today.

 

At a tree/wood

Blessed be you Tree of Life,

with your roots reaching down into the damp earth,

your leaves yearning towards heaven’s light.

Praise to you for the wild sanctuary of the wood

and the brown bird choir in the branch-beamed roof.

Shelter me under your care

for you know my greening and renewal.

You know the changes that turn my leaves to flames

You know my little dyings as I must let fall.

You know every ring within the trunk of my life.

You know the spiral of my inner ways.

May I see your windfall grace as I walk in trust this day.

By a river

Blessed be you River of Life,

for you nourish and refresh with clear cold waters,

bringing healing and refreshment to all who come to you.

Even the sound of laughing brook and beck

in dappled light brings joy to troubled souls.

Let me drink of your life here in solitude and stillness,

here where trees grow strong and birds keep watch.

Take my meditation and carry it down to the sea,

where the depth and height and width of your love cannot be measured.

In Garden or Park

Radiant One,

more beauteous and eternal than the late summer sun,

brightening the berries cased in nature’s plastic;

hardening the shell of nut.

By your generous hand,

bramble and blackberry, scarlet rowan and elder berries,

hazelnuts, sweet-chestnuts,

shiny rose-hips, rich red haws and deep black sloes.

Seedheads on thistle and teasel feeding the winged ones above.

May your Spirit grow me from seed of love within

that I might bear kind fruit in all weathers this day.

At  field or allotment

Praise to you Life-giving One

turning the wheel of each season with your invisible care

for you know what is needful to bring forth the fruits.

Squashes, gourds and marrows sitting on the soil,

apples, damsons, greengages on the soft grass for picking.

And underfoot, cream and magenta root vegetables ready to pull,

hardy turnips, parsnips beetroot and swede.

On tree and bush, clusters of berries in scarlet and October orange,

and nuts cradled in silken case within hard clasp of shell,

feeding birds and squirrels in scarce times.

May I know your presence warming as the colder season calls

and my heart be earthed in your generosity.

On leaving

Strange God who made dying beautiful

I abandon myself to your curious beauty this day.

As winter comes to rest the land,

empty me as a bowl ready to receive,

ready to notice your love as it happens, not afterwards,

and to cherish your nourishing with gratitude

in fruit and in fallow

and to know how beautiful is this autumn day before it passes.

copyright Tess Ward “The Celtic Wheel of the Year” O-Books 2007

Tess Ward is a hospital chaplain and writer of prayers and liturgies. She facilitates both traditional Christian services and more personal, spiritually focussed ceremonies. Her books include “The Celtic Wheel of the Year” by O-Books 2007. For more information see www.tessward.co.uk.

The wonder of creation in us

Creation Tide, which starts today on 1 September and runs for five weeks until 4 October, is a good opportunity for us to engage with creation in new ways. It’s good to engage with detail in creation. Contemplate, wonder, give thanks. It’s fascinating to watch a small child interact with a very small discovery in a garden path or a flower border. There’s enough miracle in that tiny patch of ground to keep a child entranced. Whatever happened to that quality of wonder in us? Here’s an example.

Annie Dillard is an American writer who is exquisitely aware of details. In her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek she writes of encountering a butterfly:

‘It is easy to coax an exhausted butterfly onto your finger. I saw a monarch walking across a gas station lot; it was walking south. I placed my index finger in its path, and it clambered aboard and let me lift it to my face. Its wings were faded but unmarked by hazard; a veneer of velvet caught the light and hinted at the frailest depth of lapped scales. It was a male; his legs clutching my finger were short and atrophied; they clasped my finger with a spread fragility, a fineness as of some low note of emotion or pure strain of spirit, scarcely perceived. And I knew that those feet were actually tasting me, sipping with sensitive organs the vapour of my finger’s skin: butterflies taste with their feet. All the time he held me, he opened and closed his glorious wings, senselessly, as if sighing.’

The description of that encounter goes on for another full page. This was just an exhausted butterfly ‘walking south,’ but it evoked a depth of observation and attention that is enviable to those of us who would have wandered innocently by. When we engage with detail we’re taken into the profound value of every part of creation.

As we walk the dog or go to the local shops, can we try to walk more slowly (it’s hard). And as we walk, can we look, smell, touch, listen. A whole world of new sensory experiences opens up which is usually screened out by our distraction and haste. We need to be aware that this ability to attend to nature will easily fade unless encouraged. William Blake observed that, ‘The tree which moves some to tears of joy is, in the eyes of others, only a green thing which stands in the way.’ But faced with all this wonder, the next question for most of us has to be: ‘how then shall we live on this planet of miracles?’

Bishop of Oxford – the Rt Rev John Pritchard

For further resources around Creation Tide visit: www.earthingfaith.org/creation-tide

Photo Monarch (Butterfly) by Dave Govoni (Va bene!)