The United Nations writes:
“World Environment Day (WED) 5 June is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years it has grown to be a broad, global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders in more than 100 countries. It also serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment, galvanizing individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet.”
On World Environment Day, may we be mindful of the sins against the environment and the creator that we have committed in the name of beauty, expediency, and pleasure. We may be unaware of the destructive effect of our decisions, even taking pride in our ability to overcome nature’s resistance. Listen as I read this poem which won the Ladies Original Poem Award at the Snowy Mountains Poets Championships in 1998.
When Philip landed on our shores in 1788
He cried, “dear God, you got it wrong !. We’ll fix it for you mate.”
Now, look at all those scraggly trees – eucalypts, I think they are called.
We’ll chop them up for firewood. It’s great to hear them fall.
We need the land to be all bare, so we can use a plow
to grow some decent grass and seed to feed our horse and cow.
and what about my greyhound dogs? Good job I brought some rabbits.
they couldn’t chase those animals with tails and bouncing habits.
I’m sure the bunnies will like it here. They won’t get out of hand,
for after all, they’ll think like us… it’s pretty awful land.
So Philip started off with glee, to make it like “back home.”
And as successive settlers came, they slowly started to roam.
They cleared the land, and introduced the species called “exotic”
which only meant, they brought to Aus some flora diabolic.
like Patterson’s curse, and St. John’s wort… such pretty little flowers.
It didn’t take them long to spread about, with the wind and showers.
And then came berries, black and red… they made delicious jam.
But how they thrived and grew so well, across the entire land.
The list is almost endless of the species introduced.
The aborigines couldn’t believe the white men’s [sic] land abuse.
The chemical companies yelled, “you beaut–we’ll really do our best”
producing pesticides and drugs to kill those awful pests.
And so the great imbalance came to poor defenseless Aus.
if only we had realized the great land that it was.
But bit by bit we are seeing now, that God was pretty right.
And if we try, each one of us to work with all our might.
To do our share in fixing up the damage we have done.
Our great land Aus will shine again
beneath the Golden Sun.
Each of us can do our little part to restore God’s creation to a place of health and wholeness.
My neighbours may be a bit aghast at my commitment to return our “English” garden to a sustainable form,
a home for indigenous plants that need no extra water, an environment that is content with the rains that come or don’t come.
But when I see the water restriction notices, I’m grateful I’m doing my part.
But, I fall short, too.
Just the fact that I’m a transplant, and perhaps meant to be elsewhere, can add to the problem, I realize.
Where can you make a difference?
How can you help fix the “damage done”?
Let us confess our sins, knowing that God is listening.
Prayer of Confession
Let us pray.
God, often, we act out of ignorance, even out of a desire to re-create beauty,
not realizing that our actions are harmful to the environment.
Forgive us our short-sightedness and selfish designs.
Help us recognize the beauty of the world – this Garden of Eden – as you have created it.
Forgive us our arrogance, thinking we can make your creation more beautiful by changing it.
Forgive us for using this continent’s precious water for plants that don’t belong.
Forgive us for participating in the destruction of the fragile web of your creation.
So too, in our relationships, forgive us when we demand people grow or change to meet our own desires and expectations.
Help us see and respect your beauty already in them as they are.
In Our Hands, a Earth Day drama, Genesis 1:26-31a
Heaven and Earth, a choral reading, Genesis 1:1-2:4 – arranged by Scott Ward, USA
A Litany of the Circle — Tom Hanson and Loretta Whalen (adapted)
What will it take to renew the earth? A Litany — Jane Blewet, USA (adapted)
Praise the Divine Gardener, inspired by Psalm 148 — Ana Gobledale, UK
Earth Day prayers — Justice Ministries, USA
Aho Mitakuye Oyasin, all my relations — Lakota Nation, North America
Water, Holy Water: a blessing service — Justice Ministries, USA
Litany of Hope for Earth Day — Eco-Justice Ministries, USA
The Cosmic Walk, an interactive ritual
Earth Day Service – Sunday Morning Sustainability
Valentine for Earth, bookmarks to print — Frances Frost
Solidarity with creation — Lawrence Moore, UK
Earth Prayer — David Pickering, UK
Earth Prayer — Manitoba Buddhist Temple, Canada
God of Creation (on reading Genesis 1) — Merryl Blair, Australia
Splish Splash! — A Child’s Water Prayer — Thandiwe Dale-Ferguson, Colorado USA
Liturgy for Blessing Gardens and Gardeners
Be content with what you have — Joyce Dent, Hampshire UK
Earth Prayer — Canada
Prayer response to natural disaster — Christian Aid UK
Prayer movement launched for a just global climate agreement