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A Season of Creation

SoC headerBeginning July 24, we are launching a six-week “Season of Creation” on Sundays. I doubt you have ever heard of a Season of Creation, neither had we. Yet in our planning for the year, we thought that we should have a season focused on the world and the beauty God makes fresh every day.

We will have a chance to reflect theologically and spiritually on creation, the environment and our stewardship of it. In July, two guest preachers will launch this season, Professor of Physics, Dr. Benjamin Schumacher of Kenyon College and our previous Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Ph.D.

On Sundays our readings from the Bible are typically selected by a seasonal calendar, the lectionary. The seasons of our Church Year are governed by the dates of Christmas and Easter, to celebrate the incarnation of Jesus Christ, by which God embraced our human life and reconciled us to Godself and each other. During those seasons, we celebrate God’s salvation through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

However, the first saving act of God is creation, by which all things came into being. Indeed, the point of our salvation is to restore us to right relationship given originally in creation by God and to restore the image of God created in each of us. The Bible begins with creation stories, two of them. It ends with a renewed creation, a new heaven and earth.

While creation as a theme is woven throughout the existing seasons, we do not focus our attention on it on its own. This year we are taking a season to do so. I have heard theologians, Bishops and liturgists say that if we were putting out a new addition of the Book of Common Prayer today, we would certainly add more prayers and liturgy for creation, the environment and our responsibilities toward it. We thought we would focus on:

  •    July 24, The Stars in Their Courses
  •    July 31, The Seas and All That is in Them
  •    August 7, This Fragile Earth, our Island Home
  •    August 14, All Creatures Great and Small
  •    August 21, From Every People, Language and Nation
  •    August 28, Stewardship of Creation

Guest preachers in July include the previous Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most. Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori. She finished her term as Presiding Bishop last year with the election of the Most Rev. Michael Curry. It was 9 years ago that Bishop Jefferts Schori preached here on the Sunday after the Strawberry Festival. When I asked her to come back and preach for our Season of Creation she responded enthusiastically, both because of her fond memories of her last visit and because of her interest in the environment and creation. Before being called to ordination, she was a oceanographer. I look forward to hearing her bring her church and her scientific vocations together on July 31. She will preach at both the 10am and the 1pm service.

Our Season of Creation begins on July 24th with Dr. Benjamin Schumacher, a physicist from Kenyon College. He is a member of Harcourt Parish, the Episcopal congregation that meets in the college chapel, the Church of the Holy Spirit. I served this parish as Rector from 1998 to 2003 and as Director of the Board of Campus Ministries at Kenyon. Ben and his family are very active members of the college and parish communities. Ben is a quantum physicist with a specialty in quantum computing. He is very well read in theology and a fine lay preacher. He will begin the Season of Creation on July 24, focusing on the Stars in the Courses at both 10am and 1pm.

In addition to the theological and ethical exploration of creation, we will also just be having some fun. Special formation events for children of all ages will be offered in connection with the themes. There will be children making messy experiments and hands-on fun on the lawn. They will be making a diorama throughout the six weeks, playing with prisms and bubbles, opening geodes, enjoying a Silly Safari animal show, and much more.

It is my hope that this season will help us reflect on the goodness of creation. As faithful people we need to bring our scientific understanding of the universe together with our understanding of God and of creation. Having two faithful scientists begin our season as preachers will guide us to do this. Creation is not something we have dominion over. We are part of creation. We are creatures. We also shape the creation. As we continue in this season we will reflect on our role as stewards of the environment; how can we care for and nurture “this fragile Earth, our island home.”

Stephen Carlsen

Dean & Rector