Season of Creation Update

Our ‘Season of Creation’ update for September 2017 includes information about the Season of Creation resources, an introduction to Hope for the Future’s new workbook on talking with MPs, information about the forthcoming Kimberley and Kuruman/Oxford summit, Harvest resources, and a round-up of new campaigns and training opportunities.

Read it here

Home – A Rocha’s Resource Pack

A Rocha’s 2013 Environment Resource Pack for churches is now available from arocha.org/resources. The pack contains a flexible service order (suitable for adult and all-age worship), sermon, group Bible study, prayers, children’s resources, songs, ideas for further activities, and a presentation on coral reefs as home to many marine species.

This is what A Rocha says about the theme:

Where is your home? Many Christians have been taught that our ‘real’ home is in heaven. Yet, the Bible actually says that God’s home will be with humanity (Revelation 21:3), and God calls us to put down roots and bear good fruit in the places where we’ve been planted. A Rocha’s 2013 Environment Resource Pack on Home provides resources for churches to celebrate their local area – the human and wildlife communities they share it with – and to seek ways to be involved in caring for their homes.

The pack is designed to be used on Environment Sunday (7 June 2013), at Harvest, Creation Time, or any other suitable occasion.

Download it for free at arocha.org/resources

The Life of Trees and the Tree of Life

A Rocha’s 2012 Environment Resource Pack, The Life of Trees and the Tree of Life, is freely available to churches worldwide.

Ideal for use during Time for Creation (1 September – 5 October) or any suitable date.

Why trees? Martin Luther said: “God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone but on trees, flowers, clouds and stars.” Today, human behaviour is leading to massive deforestation around the world. All of A Rocha’s national projects are involved with protecting and planting trees or forests, and A Rocha International’s Tropical Forests Programme links several of these. In fact our human lives are dependent on trees in multiple ways. The Bible also starts and finishes with trees – in the Garden of Eden and in the heavenly-earthly City. In between, Jesus’ death on a tree expresses our misuse of God’s creation as well as God’s wonderful saving plans for people and all creation.

The pack contains PowerPoint presentations, and a short downloadable video suitable for showing in a church service, as well as a Service Outline and Children’s Activities and more. Find out more at The Life of Trees and the Tree of Life | A Rocha.

Although the pack is free, churches are encouraged to support A Rocha’s work through a special collection or regular giving. More details can be found here.

 

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

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

Creation Tide 2011 – Our Daily Bread Resource

Every year we encourage church communities to observe Creation Tide (aka a Time for Creation) and in 2011 it runs for the five weeks from 1 September to 4 October, which, with the downtime of summer holidays, may mean you need to start planning early.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) produce resources for Creation Tide each year, and this year the chosen focus is  ‘Food in God’s creation’ under the heading Our Daily Bread.

CTBI have produced a range of resources to equip churches and help planning  – and they are available now on their website to download. The Our Daily Bread resources include:

  • Sermon notes – include a series of themed sermons for each week of creation tide, plus two longer sermons
  • Re-imagining Harvest – a creative suggestion for a new form of Harvest Festival and community event
  • Ecumenical service outline – complete with PowerPoint presentation
  • Discussion group resource – through two case studies, and questions to aid discussion, a group is equipped to look at farming practices in the UK and ask what does sustainable farming in the UK mean for us?
  • Background paper – a three page background paper on food, agriculture and issues for consumers.

Download all the Our Daily Bread resources here.

Creation Tide resources from previous years can be found here. Also check out other resources mentioned on Earthing Faith.

Do you have resources that could be used in Creation Tide? Get in touch or leave a comment below.

‘What’s the food like?’, ‘Who is providing the food?’, ‘Is there enough food to go round?’ Our everyday talk constantly makes reference to food, which is no surprise, as food and drink are essentials for life and survival.When we pray “Give us our daily bread” we are both acknowledging our dependence on God’s generosity and our realisation that the answer to that prayer needs to include agriculture, commerce, sharing, trade-justice, animal welfare, diet and a host of other considerations.