Sacred Circle Liturgy – a Climate Crisis Resource

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This Climate Crisis Liturgy is a worship resource recently created by David Weiss, a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist committed to doing “public theology” around issues of ecology, sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. David offered it as a Sacred Circle for Our Climate at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ,  following the Global Youth Climate Strike on September 20th. 

The service is designed to be used anytime going forward for prayerful gatherings around climate. You’ll find find it here as a Word doc or a PDFIf you lead or assist with worship-planning, please check it out. If you’re concerned about the climate crisis and connected to a faith community, pass it along to those who do the worship planning.

 

Sacred Circle Liturgy – a Climate Crisis Resource

Honoring the Global Climate Strike

WELCOME! We’re glad you’ve come. We offer this as an opportunity for personal-communal reflection-prayer following the Youth Climate March earlier today. This is sacred space for gratitude, grief, and hope through stillness, words, and song. We are grateful you’re here.

GATHERING WITHIN OURSELVES

(10-15 minutes of contemplative time)
As you enter the circle and find a seat, allow yourself to settle in—both to this space and to your Self. Let the music bring you into touch with nature. The aisles mark the four cardinal directions; the four sections of chairs echo the four ancient elements: water, earth, air, and fire. By this symbolism we mean to embrace the whole of creation in this Sacred Circle.

We invite you to use this quiet time to listen to your own heart. In the face of global climate crisis what grief do youcarry? What fears do you harbor? What hopes do you hold—confidently or desperately? We find our strength in authenticity. May this gathering time be space where your deepest truths can emerge.


BRINGING OUR TRUTH FORWARD

An invitation to bear witness to your grief, fear, or hope by writing a word or phrase onto a ribbon for one of our four element streamers.


WELCOME

Welcome & Introduction to the Sacred Circle by a member of the planning team


COMING FROM GRATITUDE

One: Whatever we must face—and as this climate crisis deepens there is SO MUCH we must face—whatever we must face, we will face it with more grace and more steady determination if we come from gratitude.

Gratitude for Water:

Rdr 1: In our tradition, God, whom we see as the spark of creation for the cosmos, moved over the waters, imagining all that might be. And in Christian baptism—as well as many other faith traditions—water carries the promise of cleansing, renewal, and new life …

ALL:  Water is also precious in our daily lives: from the rain that nourishes the ground so that it might provide food, to the water that refreshes us, bathes us, and fills our bodies, to the soothing sound of waves on the beach, rain on leaves, or a stream over rocks …

Rdr 1: For these watery things and more …

ALL:  We say Thank You.

Gratitude for Earth:

Rdr 2: Judeo-Christian scripture tells us we were birthed from Earth itself: humus filled with holy breath and made humus beings. It tells us, too, that Earth is home to all creatures, hinting at the kinship we share with all …

ALL:  Earth, too, is precious in our daily lives: from the ground that holds us, to the fields that feed us, to the grandeur of mountain peaks and the subtler beauty of rolling hills …

Rdr 2: For these earthy things and more …

ALL:  We say Thank You.

 

Gratitude for Air:

Rdr 3: We call God Spirit, a Holy Wind, named in countless ways by people across time and place. Wind itself hints at this unseen sacred energy swirling in our midst. Indeed wrapping this fragile planet in an atmosphere, invisible but essential to foster and sustain life …

ALL:  Air is precious as well in our daily lives: as the breath that fills our lungs—again and again and again. But also as the same breath that moves between all that lives, joining us to a vast community of persons, animals, and plants …

Rdr 3: For these airy things and more …

ALL:  We say Thank You.

Gratitude for Fire:

Rdr 4: We imagine a blazing God, the sacred energy of the Big Bang, creating all the elements in the womb of that cosmic fire. Fire became the symbol for the Christian Pentecost, as tongues of flame danced on disciples’ heads, announcing that God’s love danced to all corners of the world …

ALL:  Fire is also precious in our daily lives, providing the warmth we need and the energy that helps us work. Fire especially rises up in our longing for justice—seen today in the lives … the voices … the fiery feet of youth striking and marching across this globe …

Rdr 4: For these fiery things and more …

ALL:  We say Thank You.

Song: I’m an Earth Being (Tune: Morning Has Broken)

Born of this planet, I’m an Earth being,

Born of this planet, I’m an Earth child.

One with all beings, born of this planet,

I’m an Earth being, one with the wild.

 

Born of this planet, baptized with moisture,

I’m an Earth being, blessed by her rains;

Rising from oceans, flowing through rivers,

Earth’s sacred waters pulse through my veins.

 

Born of this planet, flowing with breezes,

Children inhale Earth’s infinite breath;

Earth’s holy breathing enters my body,

Creating a presence deeper than death.

 

Born of this planet, one speck of stardust,

We feel the pulsing deep in our soul,

Mystr’y like music throbs in the landscape,

Earth like a mother, makes our lives whole.

Words by Norman Habel (see credits)

 

HONORING THE PAIN OF THE WORLD

One: However much we might prefer to rush forward into action—or however much we might feel paralyzed by despair—there is power that comes from honoring the truth, the depth of Earth’s pain. As we pause to do so—we begin the healing needed in this moment. Such pain might easily overwhelm us as individuals, but in this circle, if only briefly, we can bear it … together.

ALL:  So we honor the pain of the Water …

Rdr 1: We remember ice caps that melt, and the oceans that warm, becoming less hospitable to life. We lament the water that roils in hurricanes, overwhelms in floods, and rises along coastlines …

ALL:  So we honor the pain of the Earth …

Rdr 2: We recall Earth’s surface temperatures that rise unrelentingly, the loss of life-giving top soil, and the mass extinctions of plants, animals, and even insects, as Earth’s capacity to be home to life is fractured …

ALL:  So we honor the pain of the Air …

Rdr 3: We remember the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that make our atmosphere betray its own life-sustaining properties. We lament that our heating planet creates conflict between and within nations, such that despite our common breath, we seem to breathe fear and hatred instead …

ALL:  So we honor the pain of Fire …

Rdr 4: We recall the wildfires that destroy both forest and communities. We lament the wanton burning of rainforests. And we grieve for the truth spoken by our youth, that Planet Earth, our very home is on fire.

One: We have named only a fraction of the pain unleashed by global heating. But for tonight it is enough. Now we invite you to sit with this pain for another moment as you listen to this haunting musical composition. Mostly we visualize climate change in charts and graphs, but this cello piece, “A Song of our Warming Planet” puts it to music. The tones you’ll hear follow the rise in Earth’s temperature from 1880 to 2012. In just two minutes time, as the notes rise higher and higher, you are hearing the rising pain of Water, Earth, Air, and Fire. Listen.


Cello: A Song of Our Warming Planet

arranged by Daniel Crawford with Scott St. George (see credits)


SEEING WITH NEW EYES AND GOING FORTH

One: The stakes have never been higher. For us, for our children and grandchildren, for Earth itself.

Rdr 1: Like it or not, we WERE born for THIS moment, because we are the ones here. Now.

Rdr 2: And since we are, let’s embrace this moment as an adventure

Rdr 3: … as our moment to rise …

Rdr 4: … not because we’re so confident …

One: … but because we’re so needed—here. Now.

ALL:  Let us remember: not one of us in this circle is alone. Each of us is linked to others. And to Earth. Connected, interwoven.

Rdr 1: And together, we rise.

Rdr 2: We may not see the way forward very far …

Rdr 3: … but we saw the way here tonight … one step at a time …

Rdr 4: … and we can … keep … moving … one step at a time …

ALL:  … as together, we rise.

One: Let’s remember: countless generations brought us to this day. Alongside the foolhardy choices, habits, policies, and opinions that created the climate crisis, there have been countless actions for hope and compassion, wisdom and love, by so many.

Rdr 1: And we choose to stand on their shoulders …

Rdr 2: … to honor their lives with our own …

ALL:  As together, across time, we rise.

One: This is the work of Active Hope. We begin in gratitude. We acknowledge deep pain. We feel our ability to rise. Together. And we go forth in action.

Rdr 3: Inspired by those who have struggled so long before us …

Rdr 4: … and by the youth who marched here and around the world today,

ALL:  We pledge to take up our places …

One: … to do what we can to address the climate crisis:

ALL:  By taking actions in our own lives …

Rdr 1: … by building community …

Rdr 2: … by pressing our political leaders …

Rdr 3: … by challenging the way things are …

ALL:  And doing all these things as though our lives depend on it …

Rdr 4: … because they do.

One: Here is the promise of Active Hope. Known also as “the work that reconnects,” Active Hope echoes that truth found in every great faith tradition: that in seeking the well-being of others …

Rdr 1: … we find the deepest joy …

Rdr 2: … the greatest hope …

Rdr 3: … the highest sense of purpose …

Rdr 4: … and the richest human life …

ALL:  As together we rise.

 

Song: (any song that confirms resolve to action will work)

We used an adaptation of John Denver’s “It’s About Time,” but cannot share that in print because of copyright issues with Denver’s lyrics. See the service notes for additional ideas.

 

SENDING

One: We want to send you forth with fresh conviction about the world’s value and beauty. With deepened awareness of the world’s pain. And with a renewed sense of our place together in this moment. We invite you to join us as you feel able in reciting Joanna Macy’s “Five Vows” as ways of guiding the energy we bring to the world and each other each day.

ALL: I vow to myself and to each of you—

To commit myself daily to the healing of our world and the welfare of all beings.

To live on Earth more lightly and less violently in the food, products, and energy I consume.

To draw strength and guidance from the living Earth, the ancestors, the future beings, and our siblings of all species.

To support each of you in your work for the world, and to ask for help when I need it.

To pursue a daily spiritual practice that clarifies my mind, strengthens my heart, and supports me in observing these vows.

One: As we end our Sacred Circle, we invite you to share a sign of peace and hope with one another, by a handshake, a smile, or a hug. And we warmly invite you to stay for some apples … bread … fellowship … and to sign a climate petition for people of faith. Thank you for being here tonight. Go with gratitude, grief, hope, and peace. For together we rise. Amen.

*          *          *


SACRED CIRCLE SERVICE CREDITS

Sacred Circle for Our Climate conceived, created, and organized by the Active Hope Book Group at St. Paul’s UCC, St. Paul, MN: Deb George, Kate Hansen, Tracy Kugler, Donna Olson, Tracie Olson Payne, Bruce Tyler, and David Weiss

Liturgy for our Sacred Circle – written by David Weiss

Music during gathering time – “Bird Songs of the Northwoods” featuring birds of MN, WI, MI, NY, VT, NH, ME, MA, CT, RI. © 2005 Stan Tekiela (www.adventureplublications.net).

I’m an Earth Being – words by Norman Habel © 2010 (www.seasonofcreation.com/creation-songs); tune – Bunessan (Scottish traditional/Morning has Broken); guitar by Deb George.

Song of Our Warming Planet – arranged by Daniel Crawford in collaboration with Scott St. George (www.vimeo.com/69122809).

The Five Vows come from Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re In without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone (New World Library, 2012), pp. 202-203.

 

ABOUT THE CLIMATE STRIKE AND OUR SACRED CIRCLE

In August 2018 Greta Thunberg began her now famous series of climate school strike vigils outside the Swedish Parliament. By November 2018 Greta’s small act of defiant witness has birthed a series of worldwide “Fridays for the Future” school strikes. Youth around the globe began to organize actions to raise awareness about the climate crisis and to press for the type of sweeping and dramatic political action necessary to avert the worst consequences of climate change. Today’s Global Youth Climate Strike (9/20/2019) is the culmination of months of organizing to link a series of Youth Climate Strikes together across the globe on a single day, and invite adults to join in solidarity, as a united cry for action.

The Youth Climate Strike initiates a week (September 20-27) of climate-focused action. It is timed to precede the UN Youth Summit on Climate (9/21-22) and the UN Climate Action Summit (9/23), both in New York and leading off a week of UN meetings with important implications for climate. Additionally, Friday (9/27) has been identified by Earth Strike as a second day of global strike for climate action. Thus, any day from September 20-27 is a good day to pause for reflection-prayer around climate.

Learn about the United Church of Christ’s work on environmental and climate justice here: www.ucc.org/environmental-ministries; and here: www.uccmn.org/resources/creation-justice.

 

Devon Cupery