meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.
On our Website:
If you find the information in this reflection to be
of interest or concern, please contact MEESC
Members of MEESC reside around the Diocese of Minnesota
and are available to assist you and your congregation in
their environmental stewardship walk.
Please contact us at any time with your questions.
Creation Season 2011 (Year A)
Welcome! We're glad you're planning on observing
a liturgical season of creation. We have prepared some materials
for you to use in worship, teaching, and personal reflection.
The Notes on the readings for this topic are
available for you to use. You may
- copy and paste what you wish from this page directly to
your preparation materials or
- download the materials as part of a reference materials
for the individuals involved in preparing religious education,
homilies, or special liturgical materials for your Service.
This Sunday's topic is Forests. The following
themes may be useful in preparing a sermon, prayers, or study:
Trees; land; water; animals; new
life in spring; multiple lights; ecosystem; habitat; sturdy; tall;
majestic; uniform; inhabitants; Robin Hood; inner life; plants;
dirt; rivulets going somewhere; water running through it; good
place to hide; limited visibility; spirity (shape changers) within
and behind trees; darker; rustling and creaking of trees/branches;
- There are three major types of forests, classed according
- boreal forests (taiga)
- Tropical forests are characterized by the greatest diversity
of species. They occur near the equator, within the area bounded
by latitudes 23.5 degrees N and 23.5 degrees S. One of the major
characteristics of tropical forests is their distinct seasonality:
winter is absent, and only two seasons are present (rainy and
dry). The length of daylight is 12 hours and varies little.
of California Museum of Paleontology )
- Temperate forests occur in eastern North America, northeastern
Asia, and western and central Europe. Well-defined seasons with
a distinct winter characterize this forest biome. Moderate climate
and a growing season of 140-200 days during 4-6 frost-free months
distinguish temperate forests. (Source: University
of California Museum of Paleontology)
- Boreal forests, or taiga, represent the largest terrestial
biome. Occuring between 50 and 60 degrees north latitudes, boreal
forests can be found in the broad belt of Eurasia and North
America: two-thirds in Siberia with the rest in Scandinavia,
Alaska, and Canada. Seasons are divided into short, moist, and
moderately warm summers and long, cold, and dry winters. The
length of the growing season in boreal forests is 130 days.
of California Museum of Paleontology)
- Today, forests occupy approximately one-third of Earths
land area, account for over two-thirds of the leaf area of land
plants, and contain about 70% of carbon present in living things.
of California Museum of Paleontology)
- In an urban setting, trees are a lot more than landscaping
decorations. They make up a fully functional, incredibly valuable
urban tree canopy that performs a number of essential services
for the city and the surrounding ecosystem. The greater the
tree cover, and the less impervious surfaces in a community,
the more ecosystem services are performed. They can be grouped
into four major categories: reducing stormwater runoff, increasing
air and water quality, storing carbon, and reducing energy expenditures.
- Forests are essential for life on Earth. They give us shade
and shelter, refuge and refreshment, clean air and water. Today,
with a growing global population and subsequent demand for forest
products, the forests of the world are at risk from widespread
deforestation and degradation. (Source: The
- Overall, deforestation has been taking place at a pace of
about 130 000 km2 (13 million
hectares) per year during the period 19902005 (an area
the size of Greece), with few signs of a significant decrease
over time. Though deforestation continues at an alarming rate,
the annual net loss of forest area is decreasing due to tree
planting and natural expansion of forests in some countries
and regions. (Source: GreenFacts)
- Problems caused by insects and diseases have increased in
recent years, being spread by long-distance air travel and increased
international agricultural and forest product trade. Globally,
3% of forest area is reported to be affected by insects and
diseases. (Source: GreenFacts)
Alternate Scripture Readings:
One or more of the following readings could be used in place
of those specified in the lectionary:
- Psalm 29:5
- Psalm 96:10-13
- Psalm 148 (especially v. 9)
- Isaiah 10:16-19 and 44:21-23
In place of or in addition to a scripture reading,
you may use an alternative reading. We offer these for your
Tall rough barked trees
Rooted in the morning mist
The forest awakens
To my intrusion
I stand, attended by silence
Cloaked in cathedral green
Natures poetry that feeds my soul
It fills my need
And restores me whole
Around me, with Majesty it stands
The stillness crashing
First sunbeam, with reverence
My soul, sighing
~Marlin Pine, January 23, 2008
The clearest way into
the universe is through a forest wilderness.
~ John Muir
I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the
deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree,
or a jellow birch, or an old aquaintance among the pines.
~Henry David Thoreau
Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them
all , and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of
the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can
tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing
in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit,
and the shape of all shapes as they must live together
like one being.
And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of
many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and
as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering
tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one
father. And I saw that it was holy.
~Black Elk Speaks, The Great Vision,
1932, p. 36 on Garden
There are no medium-sized trees in the deep forest.
There are only the towering ones, whose canopy spreads
across the sky. Below, in the gloom, there's light for
nothing but mosses and ferns. But when a giant falls,
leaving a little space ... then there's a race -- between
the trees on either side, who want to spread out, and
the seedlings below, who race to grow up. Sometimes, you
can make your own space.
~ Terry Pratchett, Small Gods,
quoted on Garden
I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the
cosmos. Look at the sun: If there is no sun, then we cannot
exist. So nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred; trees
are my temples and forests are my cathedrals.
~ Mikhail Gorbachev, 1990, quoted on Garden
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
~ Wendell Berry, Manifesto: The Mad
Farmer Liberation Front quoted on Garden
A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to
the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches
in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the
outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never
cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life,
every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense
is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder
the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the
more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches,
the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.
~ John Muir, quoted on Garden
As Americans, we have become comfortable with our
environment of concrete, steel, plastics, and artificial
fibers, colors, and flavorings to such a degree that many
question whether or not we even need to focus on a relationship
with the creation. We have lost the desire to seek God
and the ability to see God in all things. And perhaps,
we have closed our eyes to the importance of God's creation
as expressed through the forests because we have substituted
the wonders of human creation for the wonders of God's
creation. This form of idolatry should concern us.
~ Susan Drake, The Global Forest, 2000
Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods
To plant a pine, one need only own a shovel.
~ Aldo Leopold quoted on Garden
Some additional readings can be found in Earth
Prayers From around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations
for Honoring the Earth, Edited by Elizabeth Roberts and
Elias Amidon; Published by Harper Colllins. The readings below
(with their authors noted) may fit within this topic.
| Allah Renee Bozarth
|Mary Rogers - Gaelic
|Pierre Teilhard de Chardin*
| Irish Blessing*
* Useful as litany or
adapted to prayers of people
There is a large selection of
creation-related hymns found on the MEESC Listing of Creation
and Environmental Music. Additionally, these works may be
- The Five Sacred Trees by John Williams. The work is
composed of five movements, each representing a tree from ancient
Celtic mythology: Eó Mugna, Tortan, Eó Rossa,
Craeb Uisnig, and Dathi.
- The Song of the Forests, Op 81, by Dmitir Shostakovich.
Shostakovich composed this oratorio in the summer of 1949. It
was written to celebrate the forestation of the Russian steppes
following the end of World War II. Premiered by the Leningrad
Philharmonic under Yevgeny Mravinsky on Dec 15, 1949, the work
was well-received by the government, earning the composer a
Stalin Prize the following year.
speech by Martin Palmer (Secretary General of Alliance of
Religions and Conservation) from 2006 about faith and forests.
To be added
Some discussion topics:
- Have you ever visited an old-growth forest? How did it make
you feel? Did you leave with a sense of the hand of the divine?
- When have you found a place where you felt like you were standing
on "the highest mountain of them all"? How did this
experience impact on how you approached the environment and
your place in it?
- What do you think John Muir might say today about the way
our forests are cut down in your area, in other places around
- Are there other aspects of the idolatry that Susan Drake wrote
about that we have seen develop in our society in the last decade
- One can apply a variant of the Gospel Based Discipleship questions
to almost any reading or situation:
A. What particularly jumps out at you or gets your attention?
B. What is this reading/information/situation saying to us?
C. What is this reading/information/situation calling us to
Revised Common Lectionary Readings:
PDF Version of these notes:
Note: The Reflections and Notes for
this Sunday were prepared by the Rev Wanda Copeland and
Chuck Morello, with contributions from the Rev Margaret
W. Thomas, John G. Gibbs, PhD, and the Rev Tom Harries.
Rev Wanda Copeland was Interim Rector of St. Christopher's
Episcopal Church, Roseville, MN, when she originally prepared
Morello was the MEESC Webverger and a licensed lay preacher
who attended St. James' Episcopal Church, Hibbing, MN, when
he contributed to these materials
Rev Margaret W. Thomas
was a retired Episcopal Priest residing in Duluth,
MN, and doing supply work when she contributed to these materials
G. Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, resided in Park Rapids,
MN, when he contributed to these materials
Rev Tom Harries was the co-chair of MEESC and the rector
of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion, St. Peter,
MN, when he contributed to these materials
Wanda, Chuck, Margaret, John, Tom, and we welcome your comments.
Please address your comments or additional reflections to Wanda
Harries, or any MEESC
member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA
The MEESC assumes
that all correspondence received is for publication on this
web site. If your comments are not for publication, please
so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right
to decide which items are included on the website.
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