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ARC Home > News and Resources > News archive:

HURT NOT THE EARTH, AND THE SEA NOR THE TREES

October 13 2005:

"From waters and rocks you have fashioned us And in love you have given us birth." Painting by Hilary Goddard.

Revelation, Chapter 7 verse 3
The Full Order of Prayer and Commitment for Hallowe'en and All Saints' Day

PART 1: Creation - the living gift of God to all

Opening Hymn:

O Worship the King, all-glorious above.
O gratefully sing, his power and his love:
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendour and girded with praise.


O tell of his might, O sing of his grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space;
His chariots of wrath the deep thunder clouds form;
And dark is his path on the wings of the storm.


The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty thy power hath founded of old;
Hath established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the seas.


Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.


Frail children of dust and feeble as frail,
In thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend.


O measureless Might, ineffable Love,
While angels delight to hymn thee above,
Thy ransomed creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall sing to thy praise.


Prayer of Welcome

Minister: Prayer of Welcome

We invite you to join us in the following prayer:

Lord and Lover of Life, We stand before you with all of Creation and sing your praises. Through time immemorial you have guided us. From waters and rocks you have fashioned us And in love you have given us birth. From the very elements you have brought forth life. From the harmony of spheres and the balances of nature You have forged a path for life to follow.

"Through stories, drama, songs and prayers the Church has also faced the reality that the Communion of the saints, of all life, and of faithfulness to God the Creator is under threat."
First Reading:

Psalm 148.

Let heaven praise the Lord, Praise him, heavenly heights, Praise him, all his angels, Praise him, all his armies!

Praise him, sun and moon, Praise him, shining stars, Praise him, highest heavens, And waters above the heavens.

Let them praise the name of the Lord, At whose command they were created; He has fixed them in their place for ever, By an unalterable statute.

Let earth praise the Lord: Sea monsters and all the deeps; fire and hail, snow and mist, Gales that obey his decree,

Mountains and hills, Orchards and forests, Wild animals and farm animals, Snakes and birds,

All kings on earth and nations, Princes, all rulers in the world, Young men and women, Old people, and children too!

Let them praise the name of the Lord, For his name and no other is sublime, Transcending earth and heaven in majesty, Raising the fortunes of his people, To the praises of the devout, Of Israel, the people dear to him.

Minister

The Bible opens with a picture of God creating life from the elements, indeed of God creating the very elements themselves. And then, throughout the Bible, we hear of God as the loving origin of all life to whom life in joyful celebration gives back praise as in Psalm 148 which we have just heard, urging everything and everyone the mountains, the fruit trees, the cedars, the wild animals, the cattle, the small creatures and all the people of the earth – to give praise.

"For we have unleashed new powers upon God’s world. Powers that are eroding Creation’s balance and poisoning the very fabric of life. Most of these forces were originally designed to make life better. But we have allowed them to go beyond our control." Painting by Hilary Goddard.
In the Church’s own teachings, we are linked through time and space with all that has come before and all who will follow us. This is the Communion of Saints - not just the great saints such as Francis or Mary, but all the ordinary people who, through faith, have lived life as a gift and inspired others to do the same.

In this letter from Paul to the Colossians, the apostle describes Christ as linking all life and lives through his resurrection, not just human beings.

Second Reading:

Colossians 1: 18-20

He is the Beginning, The first born from the dead, So that he should be supreme in every way; Because God wanted all fullness to be found in him And through him to reconcile all things to him, Everything in heaven and everything on earth, By making peace through his death upon the cross.


Minister

St Francis of Assisi understood this vision of a communion of saints, of life itself caught up in the love of God and love for God. And he captures it here, very gently, in his Canticle of the Sun, which many of us also know as a hymn.

Third Reading (which can be spoken or sung):



Canticle of the Sun

All Creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam,
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.


Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
Ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise him, alleluia!
Thou rising morn in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening find a voice;
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.


Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest us both warmth and light,
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Dear Mother earth who day by day,
Unfoldest blessing on our way,
O praise him, alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them his glory also show;
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

And thou most kind and gentle death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise him, alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod;
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.


Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship him in humbleness;
O praise him, alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One,
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.


PART 2: Perils and Dangers

Minister

Through stories, drama, songs and prayers the Church has also faced the reality that the Communion of the saints, of all life, and of faithfulness to God the Creator is under threat. In the old liturgies of the Church, as the light faded in the evening, the following prayer would be said as it still is said in many places, to this day:

"Ninety percent of the chemicals currently on sale in Europe have never been assessed for their wider environmental and health impact. Which means that we do not know for sure what they do. But we do know that their impact stretches far beyond our own communities and generations."
Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee O Lord; And by thy greater mercy defend us from all the perils and dangers of this night; For the love of thy Son, Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

And once a year, these perils and dangers would find especial focus on the Eve of All Saints, or all the Hallowed ones. This night is now known as Hallowe'en.

October 31st was the last night of the old pagan European year. It was believed that on that night, all the forces of evil walked the earth seeking to destroy and corrupt. The Church took this ancient fear and faced it head on. It made that fearful night the eve of its celebration of the continuity of life. A Celebration of the Communion of all those Saints who have guided and loved all life down through the ages and who still exist in communion with us today as we will exist in communion with those to come. An unbroken chain, which neither fear nor evil could break. From the fears of Hallowe’en, the Church calls all to celebrate the triumph of life.

In the past, our fears found _expression through demons and devils, witches and ghosts. They represented the reality that the balance and harmony of life is threatened. Today, we have new forces. Forces which are of our own making. For we have unleashed new powers upon God’s world. Powers that are eroding Creation’s balance and poisoning the very fabric of life. Most of these forces were originally designed to make life better. But we have allowed them to go beyond our control.

Ninety percent of the chemicals currently on sale in Europe have never been assessed for their wider environmental and health impact. Which means that we do not know for sure what they do. But we do know that their impact stretches far beyond our own communities and generations.

PCBs, which are chemicals that were banned in most countries in 1977, have been found in the tissue of Polar Bears in the Arctic, and in other animals living far removed from any human settlements. Chemicals that enter a woman’s body while she is pregnant, can sometimes disrupt and alter the hormones of her unborn child. Other chemicals can give us cancer, or destroy our endocrine systems. Many other chemicals are harmless. But we don’t know which ones.

This is why we need to call upon all creation to defend life itself and to oppose the forces we have unwittingly released.

More than fifteen hundred years ago, St. Patrick was in great danger. He was being hunted by the enemies of Christ who wished to kill him. In his despair he called upon nature as well as the Trinity to protect him - and they did. His prayer is known today as St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

Fourth reading (which can be spoken or sung)

I bind unto myself this day, The strong name of the Trinity. By invocation of the same, The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever, By power of faith, Christ Incarnation, His baptism in the Jordan River, His death on Cross for my salvation: His bursting from the spiced tomb, His riding up the heavenly way, His coming at the day of doom, I bind unto myself this day.

I bind unto myself the power, Of the great love of cherubim, The sweet ‘Well done!’ in judgment hour; The service of the seraphim, Confessors’ faith, apostles’ word, The patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls, All good deeds done unto the Lord, And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself this day, The virtues of the star-lit heaven, The glorious sun’s life giving rays, The whiteness of the moon at even, The flashing of the lightening free, The whirling winds’ tempestuous shocks, The stable earth, the deep salt sea, Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself this day, The power of God to hold and lead, His eye to watch, his might to stay, His ear to hearken to my need; The wisdom of my God to teach, His hand to guide, his shield to ward, The word of God to give me speech, His heavenly host to be my guard.

I bind unto myself to day, The strong name of the Trinity, By invocation of the same, The Three in One and One in Three, Of whom all nature hath creation, Eternal Father, Spirit, Word, Praise to the Lord of my salvation, Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

PART 3: Creating a New Covenant

Minister

Having called upon the Trinity and the very elements and forces of nature and creation - to come to our aid, we must now recognize that we also need to come to the aid of creation.

In the story of Noah told in Genesis, God makes a great Covenant, or binding promise, to humanity and to creation. God has flooded the world, but as he brings Noah to dry land he promises never to destroy all life in such a way again. As the Bible says, God makes the covenant with “every living creature of every kind that is found on earth.” And the rainbow is given to be a perpetual reminder of this promise.

Now we need a new covenant. We need to covenant that we will not now destroy all life. We hold the power of life or death. We are altering the very balances of life on earth, polluting with toxics and poisoning through misuse. We have already swept away countless “living creatures of every kind that are found on the earth. “ Unless we change, we, not God, will destroy life. Unlike God however, we cannot bring to life again, nor can we create a new heaven and a new earth.

Ninety percent of the chemicals currently on sale in Europe have never been assessed for their wider environmental and health impact. Which means that we do not know for sure what they do. But we do know that their impact stretches far beyond our own communities and generations.

This is why we need a new covenant based upon the one God made with Noah. This covenant is between us and our neighbours; between us and God; between us and the rest of nature. It is a covenant to the generations who have not yet been born, yet whom we are already endangering by the poisons we are producing now. It is a covenant between us and those who came before us who helped preserve the very balance of creation itself.

We ask you today to make this public covenant and then to seek ways in which to live it out – supporting cutting back the use of chemicals in your own homes and places of work and worship as well as seeking other ways to help restore the balance and harmony of life.

It is spoken here today in a church, but it is designed for anyone of good will, belonging to any faith, or to none.

The Rainbow Covenant

Brothers and sisters in creation,
We covenant this day with you,
And with all creation yet to be;
With every living creature and all that contains and sustains you.

With all that is on earth and with the earth itself;

With all that lives in the waters and with the waters themselves;

With all that flies in the skies and the sky itself.

We establish this covenant, that all our powers will be used to prevent your destruction.

We confess that it is our own kind Who put you at risk of death. We ask for your trust And as a symbol of our intention We mark our covenant with you by the rainbow.

Let the Rainbow always be a sign Of the covenant between ourselves And every living thing that is found on the earth.


Final Readings:

Luke 6: 20 – 31. The Beatitudes.

Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he said:

‘How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God, Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied. Happy are you who weep now: you shall laugh.

Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This ancestors was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

But alas for you who are rich: you have your consolation now. Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry. Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep. Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.

But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you.


Revelation 7: 1 – 4

Next I saw four angels, standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the world back to keep them from blowing over the land, or the sea of the trees. Then I saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on the land, or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God’.

Minister

Lord, through the Rainbow Covenant we offer ourselves to be the instruments of your blessing. Lead us to be your partners in the restoration of the harmony of creation. As through your son Our Saviour we seek to hurt not the earth, and the seas nor the trees.

Amen


This service has been designed by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) www.arcworld.org with the assistance of the World Wide Fund for Nature. The illustrations are manipulated microscopic pictures of cellular structures while the paintings are by Hilary Goddard, an artist inspired both by her Christian faith and by nature. We are grateful to her for permission to reproduce them here.

This service is copyright free. We just ask that when using it or parts of it, the original source be acknowledged,



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