An Australian Story
We celebrate the season of Advent before Christmas. We celebrate the season of Lent before Easter. When do we celebrate the season of Creation? And where did this season begin?
This new season of the church year is celebrated during the four Sundays of September that precede St Francis of Assisi Day (4 October).
Around the world, churches are become acutely aware of the environmental crisis. Our precious planet is at risk. In response, many congregations in the Western world have celebrated Earth Day, World Environment Day or St Francis of Assisi Day.
The season of Creation begins as an Australian story.
I, like many in our Lutheran Church in Australia, grew up in the bush. I climbed every tree within miles. I felt close to creation: the soil, the streams and the sounds of the bush. Celebrating the creation I love has long been one of my dreams.
In 2000, at St Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Adelaide, South Australia, we decided to celebrate creation. For four weeks we relived the great creation stories in the Bible. The children loved it. We also confessed what we have done to creation and how God is working to renew creation. It was an exciting beginning!
From 2001 to 2003 I worked with the Uniting Church Commission for Mission in Melbourne, Victoria. After a series of workshops, their leaders agreed to explore the idea of a season of Creation. The idea was a genuine local dream, not a product from abroad.
In 2003 and 2004 the Uniting Church in Melbourne provided the funds to develop the resources needed to celebrate the season of Creation. In September 2004 the season was trialled in about fifty congregations in Melbourne and Adelaide. My thanks to the Uniting Church for taking the risk to support this Australian venture of faith.
In 2005 the season of Creation is an option for congregations across Australia. But not only Australia! Lutheran churches and the National Council of Churches in USA are planning to introduce the season of Creation in 2005. People in Europe and New Zealand are also interested. In Australia, mission departments of the Lutheran Church have endorsed the project.
The season of Creation offers an opportunity for churches to introduce new visual elements into their worship and to be ecumenical and connected with creation in a particular context. The Sundays of the first year in the three-year cycle of Creation are called Forest Sunday, Land Sunday, Outback/Wilderness Sunday and River Sunday. Congregations can turn the sanctuary into a vibrant part of creation as they celebrate with creation.
The Season of Creation is now celebrated in many countries around the world now and in 2012 the website had over 10,000 hits.