A Prayer Service for Earth Day - Education for Justice

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A Prayer Service for Earth Day - Education for Justice

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  • 1. ○ ENVIRONMENT ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○A Prayer Service for Earth Day, 2006 ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○Leader: Come, let us praise God for the gift of Creation. ○ ○ ○ ○All: Creator God, we praise you for the grandeur of the universe. ○ ○ We praise you for the gift of this Earth. ○ ○ We praise you for the land, and we praise you for the seas. ○ We praise you for the great miracle of teeming life on our prolific planet. ○ ○ We praise you for the cycle of growth and for the beauty of bursting blooms in the Spring time. ○ ○ We praise you green growth of summer and for the holy harvest in the Fall. ○ ○ We praise you for the infinity of different creatures on the land and in the sea, each unique in its own way, each ○ fitting into the complex ecosystems you have gifted us with, each dependent on each other and the whole. ○ ○ We praise you, our Creator. ○ ○ Grace us with a sense of our responsibilities to preserve and protect your precious gift, ○ ○ This Garden, this Earth. ○ ○ We praise you, Creator God, and we offer you our hearts and hands for the preservation of your Creation. ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○Reflections: ○ ○ ○ ○ Because the earth was entrusted to human stewardship, the natural world is not just a resource to be exploited ○ ○ but also a reality to be respected and reverenced as a gift and trust from God. It is the task of human beings to ○ ○ care for, preserve and cultivate the treasures of Creation. . . The natural resources of Creation need to be ○ protected against the harmful policies of some industrialized nations and increasingly powerful transnational ○ ○ corporations which can lead to deforestation, despoliation of the land, pollution of rivers by mining, over-fishing ○ ○ of profitable species, or fouling the fishing-grounds with industrial and nuclear waste. We must respond to the ○ ○ concerns of scientists about the warming of the global commons; the world’s countries must work together, ○ ○ taking the necessary and responsible steps to curb this trend, for the good of all peoples and of Creation itself. ○ ○ Pope John Paul II, November 22, 2001 ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan ○ advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God’s creation and the one human family. It is ○ ○ about protecting both “the human environment” and the natural environment. It is about our human stewardship ○ ○ of God’s creation and our responsibility to those who come after us. With these reflections, we seek to offer a ○ ○ word of caution and a plea for genuine dialogue as the United States and other nations face decisions about ○ ○ how best to respond to the challenges of global climate change. . .All nations share the responsibility to address ○ the problem of global climate change. But historically the industrial economies have been responsible for the ○ ○ highest emissions of greenhouse gases that scientists suggest are causing the warming trend. Also, significant ○ ○ wealth, technological sophistication, and entrepreneurial creativity give these nations a greater capacity to find ○ ○ useful responses to this problem. Energy resource adjustments must be made both in the policies of richer ○ ○ countries and in the development paths of poorer ones. ○ ○ U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June, 2001 ○ ○1 / 4 February 2006
  • 2. ○ ENVIRONMENT ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○Litany for a Changing World ○ ○ ○ ○Reader One: The Earth’s climate is changing and around the world we see the signs of the times. ○ The seas are weeping and the land is in grief. ○ ○ ○Response: God, give us the grace to help heal this world and to reverse the effects of climate change. ○ ○ ○ ○ (Repeat Response after each reader.) ○ ○ ○ ○ ○Reader Two: Everywhere on Earth, ice is changing. The famed snows of Kilimanjaro have melted more than 80 ○ percent since 1912. Most central and eastern Himalayan glaciers could virtually disappear by 2035. ○ ○ ○ ○Reader Three: Arctic sea ice has thinned significantly over the past half century, and its mass has declined by about ○ 10 percent in the past 30 years. NASA’s readings show the edges of Greenland’s ice sheet shrinking. ○ ○ ○ ○Reader Four: Spring ice breakup in the Northern Hemisphere now occurs 9 days earlier than it did in the last century, ○ and autumn freeze-up 10 days later, causing the thawing of permanent frost in places such as Alaska. ○ ○ ○ ○Reader Five: From the Arctic to Peru, from Switzerland to the equatorial glaciers of Irian Jaya in Indonesia, massive ○ ice fields, huge glaciers, and sea ice are disappearing, effecting animals and humans. ○ ○ ○ ○Reader Six: In the Antarctica, the sea ice has shrunk by a fifth, making it more difficult for penguins and birds of ○ the region to survive. In Canada, the winter ice melts 2-3 weeks earlier than usual, and polar bears are ○ ○ having difficulty finding enough food. ○ ○ ○Reader Seven: In the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, as in many other reefs, the warmer ocean water is destroying ○ ○ coral and other organisms. In the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, the sea turtles are being effected by ○ ○ the warmer weather and their birth patterns are changing. ○ ○ ○Reader Eight: In Argentina and other countries, rising temperatures and water shortages have sparked massive ○ ○ wildfires in the last decade. In Utah, and in other areas in western U.S., the weather has been increas ○ ingly dry and local water sources are lower than normal ○ ○ ○ ○Reader Nine: In poor countries in Africa, such as Kenya and Tanzania, warmer weather has increased mosquitoes ○ which carry malaria. Poor countries and people in poverty will have to bear much of the burden of ○ ○ climate change, as they live in vulnerable areas and have few if any resources to cope with its effects. ○ ○ ○ ○ ○Closing Prayer: The seas are weeping and the land is in grief. But we are called to be signs of hope in this world, ○ ○ to be co-creators with God of a global community where the earth is respected and cherished. ○ We ask our Creator to give us discernment and to guide us as we become active members of the ○ ○ human family, working with our sisters and brothers to change the destructive trends that are ○ ○ causing global warming. We have been given a great gift, the richness of Creation, and as we ○ ○ celebrate the earth on this day, we pledge to protect this gift of God. Hear us Creator, ○ ○ and be with us every day as we seek to restore and preserve your Creation. Amen. ○ ○ ○ ○ ○Factual Data from National Geographic web site articles, www.nationalgeographic.com ○2 / 4 February 2006
  • 3. ○ ENVIRONMENT ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○Frequently Asked Questions About Global Warming ○ ○ ○ ○ ○What causes global warming? neath them. But even the richest continent is threatened. ○ ○ That is because one of the results of protracted global ○ ○Here’s how the greenhouse effect works: The sun’s rays warming would be more violent and frequent weather ○arrive in the atmosphere as ultraviolet radiation, which disturbances, including hurricanes, cyclones, and tornados. ○ ○comes in short waves so it slips right through the atmo- North America, the continent with the greatest frequency ○ ○sphere to the surface. When the rays hit ground and water, of severe weather, can expect to be ravaged. As well, the ○they turn into heat, or infrared radiation, which reflects heat stresses that accompany hot spells now would ○ ○back out into the atmosphere as long waves. Those waves become greater and affect more people. The kind of heat ○ ○are caught by greenhouse gases, which are all composed waves that killed hundreds of people in Chicago in 1995 ○of molecules that have three or more atoms. will become more frequent. Those same stresses affect ○ ○ food animals and food plants as well, and would disrupt our ○ efforts to feed ourselves. ○Over ninety-nine percent of the atmosphere is composed ○of smaller molecules. These “big” three-atom molecules ○ ○catch the “big” waves of infrared rising into the atmo- Drought and flooding are already on the increase and ○ bringing their disruptions to human populations, plants, and ○sphere, trapping the heat and warming the planet. The ○problem now is that human activities are releasing too animals. Global warming stresses also lower the resistance ○ ○many three-atom molecules into the atmosphere, enhanc- of all living beings to disease and infections. Mosquitoes ○ing the natural greenhouse effect. especially would love the increase in their hot humid ○ ○ habitat. Disease-carrying mosquitoes and other parasites ○ ○What are the greenhouse gases and where do they would thrive. They are already climbing to higher altitudes ○come from? and latitudes under the current warming. ○ ○ ○ ○The major greenhouse gas that humans are adding to the Can we stop global warming? ○atmosphere is carbon dioxide, CO2, which remains in the ○ ○atmosphere a century or more. The second largest green- The best science indicates that to stabilize the climate, we ○ ○house gas being emitted by humans is methane, CH4, must rapidly reduce human greenhouse emissions on the ○ order of 70%. Because the climate resembles a speeding ○which is around twenty times more powerful than CO2. ○Much of this comes from agricultural sources such as train that takes a long time to slow, the longer we wait the ○ ○farm animals and rice paddies. Roughly three-quarters of greater the risk that we will set in motion natural forces ○ we cannot stop. We can slow and then stop the train of ○human-caused greenhouse warming comes from the ○burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas. Most of the global warming by transforming our energy system from ○ ○remainder comes from deforestation, primarily of the one based on fossil fuels to one based on natural, renew- ○ able energies including sun, wind, tides, plant growth, and ○tropical rainforests. ○ geothermal energy.Why is global warming harmful? Wouldn’t it be ○ ○ ○ We have the technology, but applying it will take a large ○pleasant to have milder temperatures, especially ○in the temperate and frigid zones? investment by government and business. In shifting to ○ ○ clean energy, we will also eliminate much air pollution, and ○ build new industries and a new basis of sustainable pros- ○Global warming will have winners and losers, but most of ○us will be losers. Some of the hardest hit regions will be in perity. If we move quickly to clean energy, stop deforest- ○ ○the developing nations of the tropics, particularly in Africa, ing the tropics, and move to more sustainable agriculture, ○ we will eliminate most greenhouse gases, and avert ○and since this is primarily a result of gases emitted by the ○rich nations, this is a global justice concern. Other big climatic catastrophe. We are well up to the task. We just ○ ○losers will be inhabitants of tropical islands who could lose have to recognize its critical importance to our future, and ○ we have to work as a united force for the common good. ○their homes to rising seas and the Inuit peoples of the ○Arctic whose environment will melt right out from under- ○ Excerpted from Climate Solutions: www.climatesolutions.org. ○3 / 4 February 2006
  • 4. ○ ENVIRONMENT ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○A Continuum of Actions: Do What You Can ○ St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church: ○ ○ Stewards of God’s Creation ○Simply start with where you are to reduce Global Warm- ○ ○ing. Consider your transportation. Where are you on the The parish of St. Elizabeth Church, in a community just ○continuum of driving alone wherever you go, to not owning ○ south of Detroit, has truly exemplified what it means to ○a car? Can you imagine taking one step (in the direction of care for Earth and address the problems of climate change ○ ○driving less) along the continuum? Perhaps car pool to work and energy use. Their congregational “Stewards of God’s ○once a week. Or, offer the Earth a Sabbath – rest your ○ Creation” group began in 1994, with the enthusiastic sup- ○automobile by carpooling, biking, or walking on Sundays. port of their pastor, the Rev. Charles Morris. Initially, they ○ ○ focused on environmental fairs and other programs to raise ○Or, take food choices. Can you consider eating one less ○ awareness in the parish at large. ○meal of meat every week--or even two? Try purchasing ○locally grown produce, or locally raised meat: the average ○ In 1997, they carried out an energy audit of their facilities ○piece of food today travels 1,200 miles simply to reach ○ (church, school, and rectory) and the congregation com- ○your plate. For a very helpful article which fully describes mitted to various efficiency measures, ultimately saving them ○steps along an actual “food choices continuum,” see ○ thousands of dollars in utility bills. After attending the 1999 ○www.earthministry.org/food_and_farming.htm and click on kick-off conference for the Michigan Interfaith Climate ○ ○“The Great Hunter-Gatherer Continuum.” Or check out Change Campaign, Rev. Morris led a Bible study based on ○the book Food and Faith: Justice, Joy, and Daily Bread, ○ the National Council of Churches’ resource “It’s God’s ○edited by EarthMinistry’s Michael Schut. World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global ○ ○ Warming.”(see http://www.nccecojustice.org) ○The Center for a New American Dream’s website, ○ ○www.newdream.org, features a program called “Turn the The actions of the parish were also featured during a “Liv- ○ ○Tide,” which highlights 9 personal actions to protect the ing on Earth” National Public Radio segment later that year. ○environment, with web-based calculators that tally and ○ What stands out about this parish is that they didn’t stop ○track individual and collective impact, giving feedback on there, but moved on to promote alternative energy sources ○ ○efforts to be a good steward of the earth.(See the follow- by installing a small wind turbine and solar panels on the ○ing websites for information on reducing emissions: ○ rectory’s roof. During a interfaith press conference in June ○www.zedfactory.com; www.rmi.org .) 2001, Rev. Morris climbed a ladder to the rooftop and ○ ○ blessed both the solar panels and windmill, with special ○Speak Out for Environmental Justice ○ prayers composed for the day. No one there will soon for- ○Just as important as individuals adjusting their consumer get how the blades of the wind turbine caught a puff of ○ ○behavior is the need for individuals to work together to wind and began to move at the very moment they were ○advocate for the kind of society where consumer choices ○ blessed! ○are not environmentally damaging. We must not overlook ○ ○the importance of political activity leading to systemic Since that time, the blessings and example of St. Elizabeth ○change. When we speak out as advocates, we join the ○ have continued: the congregation has received grants fromlong history within faith traditions of lending our voice to ○ the State of Michigan to add to their clean energy and effi- ○ ○the voiceless, addressing those who hold power. The proph- ciency capabilities as a demonstration site for schools and ○ets of the Hebrew Bible and Jesuse voiced their dismay ○ other civic groups. The media attention they have received ○over those lands polluted and harmed under human greed helps to spread the message and raise awareness well be- ○ ○and warfare. We who hold power (as consumers) and yond the religious community. The parish members have ○have access to power (via political leaders or corporations) ○ become active in advocating for state and national legisla- ○must join our voices with those human and nonhuman voices tion to protect the environment. This parish is an example ○ ○that have been overpowered or silenced. Vote carefully, of people of faith doing the work of justice. ○write letters to elected officials, support and join with or- ○ ○ganizations advocating for the kinds of systemic changes What can your parish, school, or faith community do ○ ○justice demands. Take responsibility for Creation. to safeguard the precious gift of Creation? ○ ○ ○4 / 4 February 2006