World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Prayer service for climate justice

This material was compiled by members of the Ecumenical Centre worship committee as an inspiration for congregations taking part in the international bellringing for climate justice on 13 December 2009.

24 November 2009

Time to listen to the drumbeat of creation

Time to act for climate justice

Time to listen, to wait and to hope for the birth of Christ

 

As part of the 13 December 2009 church bell-ringing campaign, this service proposes 350 drum beats − fifty beats for each of the seven days of creation. 350 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is all that our fragile planet can bear without there being irrevocable climate change. After a reading from each day of the story of creation in Genesis 1, cries and hopes from a different region of the world are read out, 50 drum beats are beaten out and one of the great Advent antiphone prayers is read.

For each day of creation there is a different colour of the rainbow. During the drum beating a piece of cloth in this colour can be laid down to gradually form a rainbow, sign of God’s covenant. The advent wreath could be placed at the centre of this or this service can be used without an advent wreath and people can simply light candles at the end.

The candles on the advent wreath are lit at the end of this service as a sign of hope and promise that Emmanuel, God with us, will come to transform humanity in the person of Jesus Christ.

This service can be adapted for local use, music and songs can be interspersed amongst the readings. If you are in a multicultural context encourage people to bring their Bibles in their mother tongue with them, try to have the biblical readings in different languages.

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Introduction 

Sing: O come o come Emmanuel

Day one of creation - colour red

Genesis 1, 1-5

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Cries and hopes from the Pacific

Atua! Your Pacific people call out to you, even as the waters continue to rise...

hear our prayer, we who trust in your love!


Atua! Your Pacific people call out to you, even as our land disappears before our eyes...
hear our prayer, we who hope in your love!

Atua! Our strength! Our life! Our love!

50 drum beats  

Advent Antiphone

O wisdom, coming forth from the Most High,
filling all creation and reigning to the ends of the earth;
come and teach us the way of truth.

Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Sung response

Day two of creation - colour orange

Genesis 1, 6-8

And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

Cries and hopes from Africa

Namalenga! God of all creation, as the elephants trumpet their distress when looking for water in drought stricken lands, hear our cries for our beautiful lands despoiled by the greedy looking to make easy money from natural resources.

Chiuta! See the deserts grow, the lakes and rivers shrink, animals die, crops fail.

Modimo, You are above and over all things, we trust you will transform our hearts of stone and call us to protect your creation even as we seek your protection.

50 drum beats

Advent Antiphone 2

O Lord of Lords, and ruler of the House of Israel,
you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush, and gave him the law on Sinai:
come with your outstretched arm and ransom us.

Amen.

Come Lord Jesus.

Sung response

Day three of creation - colour yellow

Genesis 1, 9-13

And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Cries and hopes from Asia

O Lord protect the earth and all its abundant life.
Help us to conserve nature and serve all creation;
Transform our greed to consume into a thirst to share;
Wash us clean of carelessness and callousness.
Bless all our efforts to protect our environment. 

May the seasonal rains continue to nourish the lands
May the glaciers continue to adorn the mountains,
rivers flow unhindered, teeming with life,
and people live in harmony with Mother Earth.
O Lord protect the earth and all its abundant life.

50 drum beats

Advent Antiphone 3

O root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the nations;
kings will keep silence before you for whom the nations long;
come and save us and delay no longer.

Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Sung response

Day four of creation - Genesis - colour green

Genesis 1, 14-19

And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

Cries and Hopes from the Middle East

Great God, hear us as we cry out to you for peace and justice for the peoples and the land itself. Grant us homelands where water, land and resources are respected and shared by all. Teach us to trust in hope that one day soon all may dwell beneath their vines and fig trees in peace and happiness. May your justice truly course through our lands like an unstoppable torrent.

Hear our cries. Grant us hope.

Advent Antiphone 4

O key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and none can shut; you shut and none can open:
come and free the captives from prison, and break down the walls of death.

Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Sung response

Day five of creation - Genesis - colour blue

Genesis 1, 20-23

And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

Cries and hopes from North America

Lord, have mercy on us, for we consume more than our share of the earth's resources, and in so doing we grind the faces of the poor.

Christ, have mercy on us, for we too often respond to bullies with bullying, fight terror with terror, answer violence with violence.

Lord, have mercy on us, that we may learn to doubt our doubts, to follow where you lead us and to nurture the hope we have in you.

Grant us your peace, O Lord, and put a new and right spirit within us.

50 drum beats

 

Advent Antiphone 5

O morning star, splendour of the light eternal and bright sun of righteousness:
come and bring light to those who dwell in darkness and walk in the shadow of death.

Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Sung response

Day six of creation - Genesis - colour indigo

Genesis 1, 24-31
And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Cries and hopes from Europe

Creator God, our history teaches that we often don't use the freedom and responsibilities you give us well. We dominate rather than steward creation, build walls to keep others out instead of inns where all are welcome, we let fear and pride freeze us up instead of moving into your future. Help us to trust in our identity as your children, accept our thanks for the women, men and children, faith groups and political parties who show in action that indeed you created us good.

50 drum beats

Advent Antiphone 6

O king of the nations, you alone can fulfil their desires: cornerstone, binding all together: come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust of the earth.

Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Sung response

Day seven of creation - Genesis - colour violet

Genesis 2, 1-3
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

Cries and hopes from the Latin America

God in Creation, we recognize the presence of your Spirit in the midst of our Abya-Yala, in the mountains of the Andes, the tropical rainforests in Central America, the savannas and pampas, the rivers and the oceans.

We listen to the cry of the poor, who continue to suffer because of injustice. We listen to the cry of the Earth, which longs for liberation.

Help our peoples to continue to affirm that an alternative way is possible and deepen our spirituality and commitment for life.

 

50 drum beats

Advent Antiphone 7

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver,
hope of the nations and their saviour:
come and save us, O Lord our God.

Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Sung response

We light the candles on the advent wreath as a sign of hope and affirm together:

As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
shall not cease.’
Gen. 8.22

Silence

We keep silence, hoping and praying that the drum beats will stop, that each of us and the whole of humanity will take action to not exceed the 350 units of carbon that is the limit of what God’s beautiful and fragile creation can bear without irrevocable change.

Lord's prayer (said by each in their own language)

We stand to listen to and commit ourselves to the hope and promise of the Gospel

John 1.1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Blessing

Sing: Ameni

This service was put together by members of the Ecumenical Centre worship committee. Please note that the biblical quotes are from the NRSV and copyright of the NCCUSA.