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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<ul><li> 1. ENVIRONMENTA Prayer Service for Earth Day, 2006Leader: 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, eachfitting 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 exploitedbut also a reality to be respected and reverenced as a gift and trust from God. It is the task of human beings tocare for, preserve and cultivate the treasures of Creation. . . The natural resources of Creation need to beprotected against the harmful policies of some industrialized nations and increasingly powerful transnationalcorporations which can lead to deforestation, despoliation of the land, pollution of rivers by mining, over-fishingof profitable species, or fouling the fishing-grounds with industrial and nuclear waste. We must respond to theconcerns of scientists about the warming of the global commons; the worlds 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, 2001At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisanadvantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of Gods creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both the human environment and the natural environment. It is about our human stewardshipof Gods creation and our responsibility to those who come after us. With these reflections, we seek to offer aword of caution and a plea for genuine dialogue as the United States and other nations face decisions abouthow best to respond to the challenges of global climate change. . .All nations share the responsibility to addressthe problem of global climate change. But historically the industrial economies have been responsible for thehighest emissions of greenhouse gases that scientists suggest are causing the warming trend. Also, significantwealth, technological sophistication, and entrepreneurial creativity give these nations a greater capacity to finduseful responses to this problem. Energy resource adjustments must be made both in the policies of richercountries and in the development paths of poorer ones.U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June, 20011 / 4 February 2006</li></ul><p> 2. ENVIRONMENT Litany for a Changing World Reader One:The Earths 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. NASAs readings show the edges of Greenlands 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. ENVIRONMENTFrequently Asked Questions About Global WarmingWhat causes global warming?neath them. But even the richest continent is threatened. That is because one of the results of protracted globalHeres how the greenhouse effect works: The suns rays warming would be more violent and frequent weatherarrive 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 frequencysphere to the surface. When the rays hit ground and water, of severe weather, can expect to be ravaged. As well, thethey turn into heat, or infrared radiation, which reflects heat stresses that accompany hot spells now wouldback out into the atmosphere as long waves. Those wavesbecome greater and affect more people. The kind of heatare caught by greenhouse gases, which are all composed waves that killed hundreds of people in Chicago in 1995of 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 composedof smaller molecules. These big three-atom moleculescatch 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, andsphere, trapping the heat and warming the planet. Theproblem now is that human activities are releasing too animals. Global warming stresses also lower the resistancemany three-atom molecules into the atmosphere, enhanc- of all living beings to disease and infections. Mosquitoesing the natural greenhouse effect. especially would love the increase in their hot humid habitat. Disease-carrying mosquitoes and other parasitesWhat are the greenhouse gases and where do theywould thrive. They are already climbing to higher altitudescome 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 theatmosphere a century or more. The second largest green-The best science indicates that to stabilize the climate, wehouse gas being emitted by humans is methane, CH4, must rapidly reduce human greenhouse emissions on the order of 70%. Because the climate resembles a speedingwhich 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 thefarm 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 ofhuman-caused greenhouse warming comes from theburning of fossil fuels coal, oil, and gas. Most of theglobal warming by transforming our energy system fromremainder 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, andtropical rainforests. geothermal energy.Why is global warming harmful? Wouldnt it be We have the technology, but applying it will take a largepleasant to have milder temperatures, especiallyin 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 ofus will be losers. Some of the hardest hit regions will be inperity. 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 avertand since this is primarily a result of gases emitted by therich nations, this is a global justice concern. Other bigclimatic catastrophe. We are well up to the task. We justlosers will be inhabitants of tropical islands who could losehave 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 theArctic whose environment will melt right out from under- Excerpted from Climate Solutions: www.climatesolutions.org.3 / 4 February 2006 4. ENVIRONMENTA Continuum of Actions: Do What You CanSt. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church:Stewards of Gods CreationSimply 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 justcontinuum of driving alone wherever you go, to not owningsouth of Detroit, has truly exemplified what it means toa car? Can you imagine taking one step (in the direction of care for Earth and address the problems of climate changedriving less) along the continuum? Perhaps car pool to work and energy use. Their congregational Stewards of Godsonce a week. Or, offer the Earth a Sabbath rest yourCreation 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, theyfocused on environmental fairs and other programs to raiseOr, take food choices. Can you consider eating one lessawareness in the parish at large.meal of meat every week--or even two? Try purchasinglocally grown produce, or locally raised meat: the averageIn 1997, they carried out an energy audit of their facilitiespiece 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 describesmitted to various efficiency measures, ultimately saving themsteps along an actual food choices continuum, seethousands of dollars in utility bills. After attending the 1999www.earthministry.org/food_and_farming.htm and click on kick-off conference for the Michigan Interfaith ClimateThe Great Hunter-Gatherer Continuum. Or check out Change Campaign, Rev. Morris led a Bible study based onthe book Food and Faith: Justice, Joy, and Daily Bread,the National Council of Churches resource Its Godsedited by EarthMinistrys Michael Schut.World: Christians, Care for Creation and GlobalWarming.(see http://www.nccecojustice.org)The Center for a New American Dreams 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 andWhat stands out about this parish is that they didnt stoptrack individual and collective impact, giving feedback onthere, but moved on to promote alternative energy sourcesefforts to be a good steward of the earth.(See the follow-by installing a small wind turbine and solar panels on theing websites for information on reducing emissions:rectorys roof. During a interfaith press conference in Junewww.zedfactory.com; www.rmi.org .)2001, Rev. Morris climbed a ladder to the rooftop andblessed both the solar panels and windmill, with specialSpeak Out for Environmental Justiceprayers 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 ofbehavior is the need for individuals to work together towind and began to move at the very moment they wereadvocate for the kind of society where consumer choicesblessed!are not environmentally damaging. We must not overlookthe importance of political activity leading to systemicSince that time, the blessings and example of St. Elizabethchange. When we speak out as advocates, we join thehave continued: the congregation has received grants fromlong history within faith traditions of lending our voice tothe 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 andets of the Hebrew Bible and Jesuse voiced their dismayother civic groups. The media attention they have receivedover those lands polluted and harmed under human greedhelps 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 havehave 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 examplethat have been overpowered or silenced. Vote carefully, of people of faith doing the work of justice.write...</p>

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