Worship Resources

Earth Day Sunday
Fourth Sunday After Easter
April 21, 2002

The celebration of Earth Day provides a uniquely visible time for churches to draw attention to the Christian's call to care for all God's creation.

Call to Worship (Based on Hymn # 555, "Forward Through the Ages")
Leader: Forward through the ages in an unbroken line, move the faithful spirits at the call divine.
People: We gather today in the presence of God and in communion with those who have gone before us and those who will come after.
Leader: On this Earth Sabbath, we open our minds to learn about ecological threats to the health of present and future generations and to the whole community of life.
People: We open our hearts to the message of hope that comes to us through Jesus Christ.
Leader: We reach out our hands to bring healing and change, for the sake of the children of the earth--past, present, and future.
People: And we raise our voices to join with the rest of creation in singing praise to God, whose steadfast love and faithfulness endures to all generations.

Opening Hymn: #555 Forward Through the Ages

A Litany of Confession and Grace
Reader 1: John Wesley said: Sin is the refusal to acknowledge our dependence on God for life and breath and all things.
Reader 2: God of life, we confess that we often forget that we are utterly dependent upon you and interdependent with the rest of your creation.
People: Forgive us, O God, and inspire us to change.
Reader 1: Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah when he challenged the people, saying: This people's hearts have grown dull. They have eyes, but do not see; ears, but do not hear; hearts, but do not understand.
Reader 2: God of love, we confess that at times we would rather stay in denial than see, hear, and understand how our lifestyles affect our world.
People: Forgive us, O God, and inspire us to change.
Reader 1: The prophets Isaiah and Hosea said: The land lies polluted under its inhabitants. The beasts of the field, the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are dying.
Reader 2: God of mercy, we confess that we are damaging the earth, the home that you have given us. We buy and use products that pollute our air, land, and water, harming wildlife and endangering human health.
People: Forgive us, O God, and inspire us to change.
Reader 1: Chief Seattle said: Whatever we do to the web of life we do to ourselves.
Reader 2: God of justice, we confess that we have not done enough to protect the web of life. We have failed to insist that our government set standards based on precaution. We allow companies to release dangerous toxins that destroy fragile ecosystems and harm human beings, especially those among us who are most vulnerable.
People: Forgive us, O God, and inspire us to change.
All: God of compassion, today we acknowledge our dependence upon you and our interconnectedness with the whole web of life. We open our eyes, ears, and hearts to the pain of the earth, that we may be open to your truth, see your way of hope, and walk with courage in your way.
Reader 1: So be it. You are beloved children of God, forgiven, renewed, and sent out into the world to work for healing and justice, hope and wholeness, in faithfulness to God.

Hymn: #140 Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Pastoral Prayer (from Genesis 9, Genesis 17, and Deuteronomy 30)

Gracious God, your amazing love extends through all time and space, to all parts of your creation, which you created and called good. You made a covenant with Noah and his family, putting a rainbow in the sky to symbolize your promise of love and blessing to every living creature, and to all successive generations. You made a covenant with Abraham and Sarah, blessing them and their descendants throughout the generations. You made a covenant with Moses and the Israelite people to all generations, giving them the 10 commandments and challenging them to choose life. In Jesus, you invite us to enter into a new covenant, in communion with all who seek to be faithful to you.

As people of faith, we are called into covenant. Your covenant of faithfulness and love extends to the whole creation. We pray for the healing of the earth, that present and future generations may enjoy the fruits of creation, and continue to glorify and praise you.

Offertory Prayer

Generous God, you have blessed us with the resources to share the good news of your love for all creation. We dedicate these gifts and pray that they may bring healing, wholeness, and hope to the world, that future generations may also know your graciousness and love. Amen.

Responsive Benediction (Hebrews 12)
Leader: Certainly God is raising up people even today to bring us through this dark time.
People: Life-giving God, we offer ourselves in service to you, supported by a great cloud of witnesses who urge us on.
Leader: We are connected to other people of faith and conscience around the world who are working for a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.
People: This global community supports us--we support each other.
Leader: We are connected with those who have gone before us: the martyrs and heroes, all the ancestors who invested themselves for the sake of future generations, and we are connected with those who will come after us.
People: Our ancestors and descendents support us--we are their champions.
Leader: We are related to the earth and all its creatures in a web that cannot be broken without injury to all.
People: The earth and our fellow creatures support us--we are their advocates.
Leader: We are connected to Jesus Christ, who reveals God to us, sends us the Spirit, and sends us out in his name.
Leader: Therefore, let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, resisting all powers that destroy, bringing healing and hope to the world.
People: O God, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, we offer our lives in service to you.

Closing Hymn: #581 Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service

Other Hymns for Earth Day: #126 Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above, #311 Now the Green Blade Riseth, #92 For the Beauty of the Earth, and Hymns #145 to #152. All hymn numbers are from the United Methodist Hymnal (1989.)

Copyrighted by the United Methodist Church-General Board of Church & Society. Permission granted for use by denominations of the National Council of Churches of Christ and their congregations

The Earth Ministry web site features many additional worship resources for use during Earth Day Sunday

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