In our worship at Church of the Servant, we follow the church calendar with different liturgies for each season of the year. The church year begins with Advent each year, and for the first half, follows the life of Christ, including the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Easter. The second half of the church year follows the life of the Church, and is called “Ordinary Time” or the “Sundays after Pentecost.” At COS, we have taken Ordinary Time and split it into two seasons: Pentecost Season (extending Pentecost Sunday into a whole season of focusing on the work of the Holy Spirit), and Trinity Season (focusing on the Triune nature of our God.)
This year we are introducing a new season into Ordinary Time: Creation Season. While we are intentional to worship all three persons of the Trinity every Sunday, Creation Season will complete our Trinitarian focus within each church year: Advent through Easter focusing on the life of Christ, Pentecost Season focusing on the work of the Holy Spirit, and now Creation Season focusing on the work of God the Creator.
In some ways this is not a new thing: for the past few years we have used a “God the Creator” liturgy during Trinity Season. However, this year, for the first time, we are recognizing Creation Season as its own season apart from Trinity Season, and the Worship Team has worked hard on creating a new liturgy, including new artwork and new liturgical dance.
So why create a whole new season?
As its own season now, the Creation liturgy will gain prominence, rather than being one of several liturgies that gets rotated through the Trinity Season. But the main reason for creating a whole new season is to join with our Christian brothers and sisters in churches around the world who are also adopting a Season of Creation into their church calendars.
In 1989, September 1 was proclaimed as a day of prayer for creation for the Eastern Orthodox Church. It was embraced by other major European churches in 2001, and by Pope Francis for the Roman Catholic Church in 2015. Since then, many churches have extended this day of prayer for creation into a Season of Creation starting on September 1 and ending on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology. In recent years, Pope Francis and the Vatican has called on Catholics to join the ecumenical Season of Creation.
In our new liturgy for Creation Season, there are a couple things that you may notice:
First is the language we have chosen to use for the opening hymn, “All Creatures of Our God and King.” “Brother Sun,” “Sister Moon,” and “Mother Earth” can seem rather off-putting, perhaps seeming new-age-y. In fact, this is the original language used by St. Francis of Assisi in writing his canticle. This language is used as a way to help us see and remember our relationship to the non-human parts of creation. Yes, God gave humans a special role as caretakers of creation, but so often we take that role and use it to justify our exploitation the rest of creation. If we can think of the earth, moon and sun as our brothers and sisters, we can cultivate a love for them that will help us care for them in a more humble fashion.
Second, this liturgy intentionally includes time for lament. When we think about Creation in worship, we tend to praise God for its beauty or we focus on our duty as caretakers. We have often neglected to lament the brokenness and the groaning of all creation. So in addition to a time of silence for confession, in this liturgy we will have a moment of silence specifically dedicated to lament.