This fragile earth

Published May 1, 2011

In my prayers for “this fragile earth, our island home,” I find myself being drawn to a pattern of praying many of us learned long ago. “A” (we were taught) is for adoration; “C” is for confession; “T” is for thanksgiving; and “S” is for supplication. These four alphabetical prompts fit well with our duty to acknowledge our beautiful but threatened planet in our prayers.

First, we are called to praise God for the splendour of creation, the beauty of land and sea and sky, the sequence of the seasons, and the times for planting and harvesting.

Second, we are called to acknowledge our part in plundering the earth, polluting the waters and air, in upsetting ecological balance and driving the forces that accelerate global warming.

Third, we are called to give thanks for those who call us to renewed commitment to the stewardship of creation. Through the Anglican Communion’s Environmental Network we are “striving to safeguard the integrity of creation and renew the life of the earth.” Many are acting on General Synod’s call for the government of Canada to adopt a comprehensive climate action plan. Many parishes are becoming involved in the Greening Anglican Spaces project launched by the partners in mission and ecojustice committee of General Synod. Many are learning to tend the earth with greater care and consideration for those who will come after us.

Fourth, we are called to remember those most affected by powerful movements of the earth’s great tectonic plates that cause regions to shake and seas to rise in tsunami force and flood the land. Last year our hearts went out to the people of Haiti and India. Now they go out to the people of New Zealand and Japan. We pray for them and for all who reach out to help them in their suffering and sorrow.

Beyond this four-part way of praying for “this fragile earth,” I sometimes find myself simply drawn into a deep silence before God. And in that silence, I ponder some words of Archbishop Rowan Williams. Addressing a United Nations conference on climate change, he urged listeners to consider “how the policies you follow and the lifestyle you take for granted look in the light of the command to love the world you inhabit.” In a call to manifest both joy in and respect for the earth, he suggests we consider this question, “How do we show that we love God’s creation?” Ω

Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.


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