This year many of us are making the most of any opportunity to leave our home-based COVID-19 social isolation and enjoy fresh air, sunshine and the sense of space outdoors.
This is an even more attractive prospect with the arrival of spring.
The days are getting longer, the air getting warmer, and plants and animals are bringing forth new life. It’s a perfect time to appreciate the natural environment and our part in it.
Such a time of reflection is the purpose of the Season of Creation which is marked by many Christian Churches at this time of year.
The origins of the Season of Creation are found in the 1989 proclamation of Patriarch Dimitrios 1, that September 1st be a day of prayer for the environment in the Orthodox Churches. In 2003, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines suggested that this period of prayer for creation be extended until October 4th, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi (Patron Saint of Ecology). In 2007, the World Council of Churches endorsed 1 September to 4 October as the Season of Creation (originally called Time for Creation). In 2015, Pope Francis invited the Catholic Church to join in the Season of Creation. 2020 being the fifth anniversary of his letter “On Care for Our Common Home” (Laudato si’), Pope Francis has also called upon the Catholic Church to engage in a seven year effort to better respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
The Season of Creation is now an annual event offered to the 2.2 billion members of the major Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican Churches.
Jubilee for the Earth is the 2020 theme for Season of Creation. Hebrew scriptures speak of the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, as a day for people to rest (Ex. 34:21). These scriptures also speak of a Jubilee every 50th year, after seven times seven years, as a time to rest and restore ecological, social and economic justice (Lev. 25:10).
The need for climate justice grows more and more urgent. Across the world the greatest environmental destruction is being felt by the poorest communities who are also the ones who have contributed least to climate change. In our area, we see this in Pacific Islands that are becoming uninhabitable due to sea rise.
In Australia, the predicted climate change of severe droughts, extreme weather events and extended bushfire periods are now a reality. These and our land use patterns are reducing biodiversity and threatening the existence of more species.
In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that emissions must be halved by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. Australia’s emission reductions in 2018-2019 were less than 1% so we are unlikely to make the contribution that is needed. Many businesses and households are moving quicker to more sustainable practices. The Australian Government urgently needs to ensure that the transition that is underway does not unfairly impact those least able to adapt, especially coal communities, such as the NSW Hunter Region.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the interdependence of our economies, political structures, health care systems, food chains, energy and transportation systems. The pandemic and the Season of Creation could also be the stimulus to turn our appreciation for creation into significant and meaningful action for climate justice.
The Season of Creation invites both individuals and communities to reflect and work for justice in ways such as:
You might also be interested in Pope Francis’ video message asking for pray that we “take care of Creation responsibly”.