Series A

Forest Sunday

From the Bible Study Themes

  • Born of Earth and the Spirit (Genesis 2:4b-9)

The Genesis theme ‘Born of Earth and the Spirit’ is balanced by the Gospel reading: born of water and the Spirit. The second birth does not negate the first. Both births are from God and both are to be celebrated. We are children of God both by creation and by baptism. As children of Earth we all yearn to know God, as the Epistle reading testifies.

  • Earth as our living family (Genesis 2:15-20)

The story of living beings in the primal garden describes a family of creatures, all named by Adam. All living things are our kin, created as humans (adam) from the ground (adama). This garden is planted with trees, a forest vibrant with life. Christ, the second Adam, is also made of clay and is kin with us as well as with all creation.

From the Theology Themes

  •  Earth as God’s sanctuary (Isaiah 6:1-3)

 This theme is linked with the Invocation for the creation liturgy. The vision of Isaiah highlights that the whole Earth is a sanctuary, filled with God’s visible presence, which is called God’s ‘glory’ in the Old Testament. Jesus is that presence visible in human flesh and blood (John 1:14).

  • Celebrating with our kin

The Invitation highlights links not only with the reading from Genesis 2, that we have kin in creation, but also with texts like Psalm 148, which call on all creatures and parts of creation to join us in praising God. These parts of creation include the trees of the forests, which ‘sing for joy’ (Psalm 96:12).

Land Sunday

From the Bible Study Themes

  • When Earth bears the curse (Genesis 3:14-24)

When our first parents sinned, Earth suffered vicariously, even though innocent. Even today we can see how Earth suffers unjustly because of human greed. Is Earth like a Christ figure? When humans die, Earth, like a mother, is willing to receive her own again, in spite of their sins.

  •  Removing the curse on Earth (Romans 5:12-17)

Christ died not only for our sins against Earth but also to overcome the curse brought on Earth (Romans 5:12-17). Humans have fallen, not creation! The groaning of creation in Romans 8 anticipates the total removal of this curse in the new creation.

From the Theology Themes

  •  Heavenism and Earth (Psalm 139:7-11)

The Confession in this liturgy leads us to recognise that in over-valuing heaven as a superior spiritual home we have often devalued Earth as our primary home (heavenism). In reaching for bliss in heaven we have become alienated from Earth as a true home. As the reading from Psalm 139 indicates, Earth is indeed a mother/home where God formed us.

  • Coming home to Earth (Matthew 12:38-40)

The word of Absolution that is spoken is designed to assure us not only that our environmental sins are forgiven but also that Christ-like Earth itself-welcomes us home to be with Earth. Jesus, too, returns home to Earth. He is three days and three nights in the ‘heart’ of Earth.

Outback/Wilderness Sunday

From the Bible Study Themes

  • Listening to the cries of Earth (Jeremiah 12:11)

Biblical prophets and many Indigenous peoples are sensitive to the cries of the land-including the wilderness or Outback. Because of our alienation from Earth, we Westerners tend to be deaf to these cries. Reflecting the empathy of Christ for all in pain, we are called to listen with ears of faith to the voices of creation suffering around us.

  • Groaning with the Spirit (Romans 8:23-27)

There are three parties groaning in Romans 8: humans, creation and the Spirit. This groaning reflects not only the suffering of creation but also the birth pangs of hope for a new creation. The Spirit is the connection we must cultivate with Christ to help us hear the groaning all around us.

From the Theology Themes

  • Learning to pray with empathy (Jeremiah 4:23-28)

Our Prayers need to go beyond calling on God for deliverance to empathising with those parts of creation suffering around us. When we suffer ‘with’, we pray as Christ did. For Jeremiah that suffering felt as if creation was in reverse. In Romans 8 creation is being reborn.

  • Anticipating a new creation (Romans 8:18-25, Matthew 3:13 – 4:2)

The reading of the Gospel message in a creation liturgy leads us beyond personal liberation from sin to the liberation and rebirth of creation. There is good news also for creation. According to this message, creation will not be destroyed but liberated and renewed through Christ. The unspoiled wild of the Outback may be a symbol of hope for that restoration. After his baptism, Jesus retires to the wilderness (the ancient Outback) and there connects with creation. In Mark’s versions the wild animals join him.

River Sunday

From the Bible Study Themes

  • Time for sustaining Earth (Genesis 8:20-22; 9:12-17)

After the flood, God promises that Earth will be sustained rather than destroyed by water. Psalm 104 cites many examples of how water and the Spirit sustain creation. More importantly, we now know that the risen cosmic Christ is sustaining and restoring creation-and we can be part of that special sustaining process.

  • Time for Earth to celebrate (Matthew 28:1-3) The resurrection was not a quiet escape. Earth celebrated with loud trembling, as it had often in the past. The Christ who rises, later enters a cloud and permeates the cosmos. Christ is in creation, bringing hope and healing to ‘all things’ (Colossians 1:15-20) in anticipation of the renewed creation (Revelation 22:1-3). The river of Eden, appearing again in Revelation 22, is a bold symbol of that renewed creation.

From the Theology Themes

  • Celebrating a deep incarnation (John 1:14)

In the Creation Creed we are acutely conscious not only that God became a human being like us but also that God joined the biological web of creation and become one piece of Earth, like Adam. The Christ who died on the cross represents both humanity and the rest of creation. There is indeed Good News for all creation (Mark 16:15).

  • Celebrating a deep presence (1 Corinthians 10:14-18)

At the Eucharist we are all members of Christ’s body, communing with Christ. The presence of Christ in the grain and the grape connects us with the God who became incarnate in Earth. The healing presence of Christ reaches even deeper when we realise that the Christ of the eucharist fills and heals the cosmos.