The Season of Creation is an annual celebration of prayer and action to honour and protect God’s good creation. Each year, tens of thousands of Christians participate in a range of events throughout the season, from prayer services to rubbish clean-ups to advocacy actions.
The season begins on September 1, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and runs through to October 4, the Feast of St. Francis, who is the patron saint of ecology in many traditions.
The theme for this year is “Jubilee for the Earth”. We are invited to consider the integral relationship between rest for the Earth and ecological, economic, social and political ways of living. We are invited to consider how we can repair these relationships with each other and with all creation.
The need for just and sustainable systems has been revealed more than ever this year by the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, we are longing for the moral imagination that accompanies the Jubilee as we consider how to rebuild post-pandemic.
Today we hear how our brothers and sisters in Brazil are celebrating the Season of Creation this year.
This is not the first time Renew Our World Brazil and its member organisations have been part of this global celebration of our Creator, but they are doing it a little bit differently this year amidst social distancing and restrictions.
We recently had the opportunity to speak to Simone Vieira, Advocacy Coordinator from Tearfund Brazil, about the country’s plans for celebrating the Season of Creation in 2020. The team in Brazil were particularly well prepared for this year’s theme of Jubilee.
“For the last four years the biblical emphasis for the advocacy work of Tearfund Brazil has been on the Jubilee and the restorative economy,” says Simone. “So we came to realise that the Season for Creation this year matches the theme we’ve already been working on!”
To tailor the Season of Creation materials to Brazil’s evangelical church, the annual Celebration Guide is usually adapted into evangelical language.
“We also give ideas for liturgies on faith and the environment, so that the leaders of churches know how they can work these themes into their services in order to raise awareness among the church members,” says Simone. “The biggest highlight of the season is always when people stop to discuss these issues during church services, because this is not a common thing to be done. We also produce materials for children, so that even the kids can be included in the Season of Creation!”
“We are also working to raise awareness of the Jubilee and the restorative economy among church leaders by embedding them in their seminars, so that when they are getting their education to become pastors they are already engaging with these subjects.”
Over time, the bank of theological resources, songs, practical tips and materials on waste, water and climate change has grown. This is distributed to between some 100-120 churches and organisations that are involved in the season each year.
“This is the number of churches and organisations who are already involved in our environmental groups, but we don’t know how to track how many other people this reaches,” says Simone. “So we guess the number of organisations involved is even higher!”
In previous years, there have been many powerful, local events across the country.
“Before COVID, some churches used to hold walks with their members holding placards asking people to take care of creation,” Simone shares. “There has also been a movement for the plantation of new trees. And in areas where there has been lots of garbage piling up, members of churches in the area have been gathering to clean them up.
“This year the actions are going to be more reflective ones. But we also held a new activity in July with our youth called the Zero Disposable Challenge, where they were encouraged to reduce the use of disposables for seven days. Over 70 young people signed up for the first edition of this challenge, and we hope to continue it during the Season of Creation. We’re also going to hold another webinar with theologians to talk about the practical implications of the Jubilee.”
So while mass rubbish walks or clean-ups won’t feature as much this year, there will be plenty of opportunities for contemplation, action and prayer.
Simone’s closing prayer for her country and our world this Season of Creation is this:
“May all God’s people realise that we have to change the way we relate to nature otherwise the so-called apocalypse that the Church is always talking about is going to be caused by the Church itself. May each of us come to understand that we have to change our relationship with nature - at the personal, church, social and spiritual level - for the sake of all creation.”
Let’s join together with our sister Simone and the whole of Renew Our World Brazil in praying this powerful prayer.
Also keen for some practical ideas of how you can get involved in the Season of Creation this year? Check out the 2020 Celebration Guide!