An Epistle from Linda+
The gracious invitation of the Incarnate Word to live,
in, with, and through him, a life of grace for the whole world,
that thereby all the earth may be restored and humanity filled with hope.
--The House of Bishops’ Pastoral Teaching
There is a spectrum of opinion regarding Eucharistic Prayer C in the Book of Common Prayer (p. 369). It is the most Creation-centered of the four Eucharistic prayers; the one that speaks of “…the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses…” It has been called the Star Wars Prayer, the Buck Rogers Prayer, and generally has been either loved or hated since it was first introduced. However, I have noticed that in spite of the wide range of opinion concerning Prayer C as a whole, the prayer’s reference to our planet has come into greater and greater acceptance:
“…this fragile Earth, our island home.”
There is no more concise articulation in the Prayer Book of where we live, and of the responsibility we bear as caregivers for God’s Creation.
Which is why our Lenten program this year is
A Life of Grace for the Whole World: A Study Course on the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Teaching on the Environment. For such a long title, the course workbook is remarkably small at only 60 pages, but it packs a punch in its call for us to look very seriously at the perilous situation that humans have created through a worldview of subduing and dominating Creation rather than living within it as fellow creatures within an interdependent ecosystem of animals, plants and the systems that nurture us all.
The focus of the program, as the title says, is a pastoral teaching from House of Bishops, produced from their meeting in Quito, Ecuador in September 2011. You will have received a copy of the teaching in a separate e-mail last week, but if you would like to see it again, the link is
This is the first time the House of Bishops has addressed the environment in this way, as a product of one of their semiannual meetings. It is not long, and is best read in one sitting, like the letters of the Apostles in the New Testament, who wrote with the intention that their epistles would be read to the gathered church community. The structure of the Teaching is somewhat liturgical in nature, so that each section has a particular emphasis or theme: Confessional, Sacramental, Prophetic, Holiness, and Behavioral. The intent is to lead us from a place of understanding and articulating our perilous environmental situation to committing to act as individuals and as a community.
I hope you will join us for the remaining weeks of this important program, which takes place on Tuesday evenings in Lent and is repeated in the Adult Forum on Sunday mornings. Please call the office or see Susan Esposito on Sunday to register and to purchase a copy of the book.
In the meantime, I invite you to spend time in nature, thinking and praying about how we are connected to God in Creation. You may want to reflect on
A Song of Creation
(BCP p. 88)
or on this poem by Wendell Berry:
The clearing rests in song and shade.
It is a creature made
By old light held in soil and leaf,
By human work,
Fidelity of sight and stroke,
By rain, by water on
The parent stone.
We join our work to Heaven’s gift,
Our hope to what is left,
That field and woods at last agree
In an economy of widest worth.
High Heaven’s Kingdom come on earth.
O dust, arise!
Peace, and I hope to see you this Sunday,