Today's post centers on a prayer from the North American Conference on Christianity and Ecology, one of the earliest United States organizations created to motivate Christians toward ecological action. The prayer begins with praise and thankfulness to God for God's creation and moves into confession for sins against this gift.

As I pray, I am reminded of the breadth of this creation, the variety it encompasses. When I focus and speak the words from my heart, they stir up a deep gratitude for creation and give me a framework within which to express that response to God.

When I pause amidst the spoken words, letting my mind linger on the words and phrases I am praying, perhaps picturing specifics of the things named, my gratitude and praise deepen as a result, as does the confession that follows.

For the marvelous grace of Your Creation—
We pour out our thanks to You, our God,
          for sun and moon and stars,
          for rain and dew and winds,
          for winter cold and summer heat.

We pour forth our praise to You
          for mountains and hills, for springs and valleys,
          for rivers and seas.

We praise You, O Lord,
          for plants growing in earth and water,
          for life inhabiting lakes and seas,
          for life creeping in soils and land,
          for creatures living in wetlands and waters,
          for life flying above earth and sea,
          for beasts dwelling in woods and fields.

How many and wonderful are Your works, our God!
          In wisdom you have made them all!

But we confess, dear Lord,
          as creatures privileged with the care and keeping of Your Creation
          that we have abused your Creation gifts through arrogance, ignorance, and greed.

We confess risking permanent damage to Your handiwork;
We confess impoverishing Creation’s ability to bring You praise.
We confess that Your handiwork displays Your glory, leaving all of us without excuse but to
know You
We confess that Your handiwork provides the context of our living; it is our home,
          it is the realm in which we live the life of Your kingdom:
Your kingdom that is now in our midst and coming yet more

We confess, Lord, that we often are unaware of how deeply we have hurt Your good earth
          and its marvelous gifts.
We confess that we often are unaware of how our abuse of Creation has also been an abuse of

O Lord, how long will it take before we awaken to what we have done?
          How many waters must we pollute?
          How many woodlots must we destroy?
          How many forests must we despoil?
          How much soil must we erode and poison, O Lord?
          How much of Earth’s atmosphere must we contaminate?
          How many species must we abuse and extinguish?

          How many people must we degrade and kill with toxic wastes before we learn to love
          and respect your Creation;
          before we learn to love and respect our home?

For our wrongs, Lord, we ask forgiveness.

In sorrow for what we have done we offer our repentance.
We pray that our actions toward You and Your Creation are worthy of our repentance;
that we will so act here on earth that heaven will not be a shock to us.

We promise to reverence Your Creation as a gracious gift entrusted to us by You, our God.
We promise anew to be stewards and not pillagers of what You have entrusted to us.

Creator God,
You have given us every reason to learn and promote this wisdom of lives lived in harmony with

May we, your servants, increasingly serve.

May we, your servants, increasingly come to love Your Creation as we increasingly come to love
through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

          from the North American Conference on Christianity and Ecology

When it comes to human tending of creation, it is easy to abstractly recognize the failure of humankind, without recognizing or even believing my own complicity in that failure. This prayer can help us take our share of responsibility, individually as well as collectively.

How have I, myself, abused God's creation gifts through arrogance, ignorance, and greed? This is a question I should not rush past but consider and keep considering. How have I contributed to the collective failure of humanity’s care of creation, through sins of omission as well as sins of commission?

In what ways am I unaware? In what ways am I asleep? As those who bear a responsibility for care, ignorance is not an excuse. In this time of history when we have the ability to do significant harm to our world, we also have considerable knowledge of how the world is put together, which means we can heal and help our world thrive. Do I love the world enough to read the instruction manual so that I can tend to it correctly and well?

As the prayer indicates, love for creation increases in tandem with our love for God. Do I understand this world to be the place where God's kingdom comes and is coming? Do I see the earth as my beloved home, or am I always looking beyond it to some other place?

For those who worship God on Sunday mornings in a sanctuary, I believe we ought to show at least as much care for the sanctuary of this Creation as we do for the sanctuary built by human hands. If the despoiling of a church sanctuary is offensive to consider, it should be at least as offensive to even consider the despoiling of the sanctuary formed by the Creator.

Are there specific words or phrases that especially resonate with you as you read this prayer? One section that particularly resonates with me is:

We confess that Your handiwork provides the context of our living; it is our home,
it is the realm in which we live the life of Your kingdom:
Your kingdom that is now in our midst and coming yet more

Morning Fog, by Louise Conner

There is joy in realizing that I live my life in the context of God's handiwork, that the realm in which I live is God's kingdom. Although we may sometimes feel alone, we are not alone or bereft if this is true. This world is not an abstract, cold, empty place, but a place living and breathing God's presence and love. We ourselves are God's handiwork but are not the sum of it. In fact, we are completely surrounded by God's handiwork; it is the home God has made for us and for all creatures who share it with us. We are called to live out lives of service and faith amidst this company of creation—a place of marvelous grace.

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