WSCF Universal Day of Prayer

World Student Christian Federation

Universal Day of Prayer for Students 2010

 

First celebrated in 1898, the Universal Day of Prayer for Students is observed on the third Sunday of February; in 2010 it is celebrated on February 21st. The UDPS is one of the oldest ecumenical days of prayer.

In line with WSCF’s theme for 2010 the UDPS theme is ‘Climate Justice’.  Former WSCF Chairperson Rev. Ejike Okoro of Nigeria has prepared the 2010 UDPS liturgy and accompanying Bible study on behalf of the Africa region.

 

Introduction to the theme

 

Enjoy the earth gently

Enjoy the earth gently

For if the earth is spoiled

It cannot be repaired

Enjoy the earth gently                                              Yoruba Poem, West Africa

 

Appreciation and Care of God’s Creation are throughout our Christian tradition and throughout our traditional cultures. For thousands of years humans lived in harmony with the land, sea and other creatures. Relatively recently in our history because of our own greed we have upset the balance between humans and Creation. We are now so out of balance with Creation that the earth’s climate is changing. Changes in the climate have a profound effect on Creation and also humans, especially the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. If we don’t take radical action to change our behaviour we are dooming Creation and humankind to catastrophe.

As Christians we are called to work for justice and peace for all people and to care for God’s Creation. As Christians we must take urgent action for Climate Justice. In this year that WSCF has dedicated to Climate Justice, may every local SCM branch, every national SCM and each student in the Federation and all senior friends educate themselves about climate change and make a firm commitment to work for Climate Justice.

 

Creator God – maker and shaper of
   all that is,
   seen and unseen;
   You are in the expanse and depth
   of Creation, and in the processes
   that make life possible.
Yet we are distracted by the gods
   we make ourselves and our
   lives become fractured and fragmented.
   In our brokenness we disturb the
   Earth’s capacity to hold us.
   Instead we find climate uncertainty
   and global injustice.
Call us back from the brink.
   Help us to choose love not fear,
   to change ourselves and not the planet;
   to act justly for the sake of the vulnerable;
   and
   to make a difference today
   for life tomorrow.
In your name – Father, Son and Spirit.
   Amen.

Prayer by Martyn Goss, England

 

Climate Justice web resources

Information on climate change www.climateark.org

Christian climate change organisation  www.operationnoah.org

The Earth Charter     www.earthcharter.org

Eco-congregations     www.ecocongregation.org/scotland

Network of Earthkeeping Christian Communities in South Africa www.neccsa.org.za

Points way forward for caring for the environment www.projectearth.com 


 

Preparing for celebration of the UDPS

 

To prepare for this liturgy please:

 

1. Read the liturgy through and adapt it for use in your situation. The structure is a suggestion; different parts are optional and can be modified according to your local situation.

 

2. Organise the venue; in your university or college, in a church supportive of your SCM, or in the place where you usually gather with your group.

 

3. Brainstorm creative or symbolic acts to illustrate the theme to be carried out during the worship.

Some examples:

A) inform people about a local example of climate change or environmental problems

B) prepare a picture show to illustrate environmental degradation

C) prepare a survey on climate change; invite people to fill in the survey about their contribution to climate change. Invite people to share the results of the survey in the reflection time

D) Share some examples of how to combat climate change and how to take action for climate justice

E) Invite people to commit to take action for climate justice and to write their commitment on a piece of paper, at the offering everyone brings forward their commitment to work for climate justice.

 

4. Find someone or some people (student, senior friend or clergy) to prepare a sermon/reflection. It would be appropriate for the sermon/ reflection to be about the scripture readings chosen or generally on the theme. Inviting local students to share their own experiences and to participate in the liturgy is recommended.

 

5. Choose the scripture readings. Here are some suggestions:

Exodus 16:13-21                    God provides the people with enough

Deuteronomy 30:19-20         Choose life

Job 38:39-39:8                        God’s care for creatures

Psalm 104:26-35                    God provides food for all creatures

Psalm 146                               Trust in God, not earthly leaders

Isaiah 24:4-7                           The earth dries up and withers

Ezekiel 36: 24-26, 28b           I will remove your heart of stone

Matthew 6: 28-30                   Consider the lilies of the field

Luke 12: 13-21                       Accountability for that which God has provided

Luke 18:18-29                        The rich young ruler

Acts 2: 42 – 47                        Living in loving community

Romans 8:18-23                     The groaning of creation for redemption

2 Corinthians 9:6-15              The need to share the abundance of God   

 

6. Find people to lead the music.

 

7. In consultation with those who will lead the music select the songs and music for the liturgy.

 

8. Organise baskets for offerings.

 

9. Find people to lead the liturgy and the Bible study; try to have several people (women and men, students and senior friends) taking the leader’s part

 

10. Announce that there will be a collection for the SCM of Haiti. After the service send an electronic transfer or cheque to WSCF in Geneva for the Haitian SCM.

 

11. Invite students and senior friends to share this liturgy and the Bible study.

 

Preparation and Call to Worship

Provide or improvise the sound of a siren, an alarm clock or a gong). As the alarm sounds, the following call is made:

 

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble…..”

 

The sound of a clock alarm tells to us it is time to wake up, it is the time we must prepare – the climate has changed and is changing, it is time for action. The siren is blasting – we have an emergency, make way for the dying! The village crier with his gong calls us to the village square – the rains have not come as usual, the land has dried up, crops fail and the flock have no forage; and now comes the rain but it’s an unprecedented flood destroying in its trail.

 

We look up to the heavens; to the clouds – from where will our help come? Our hope is in God who made the universe.

Teach us to consider our ways Lord, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom in these times.

 

Song

 

Prayer of Adoration, Thanksgiving and Confession

Reader A: Almighty and Sovereign God, Maker of the heavens and earth, Creator of all that lives, You formed the seasons and the times to provide for all of your creation. We worship, adore and revere You.

 

We stand in awe of the greatness, beauty and harmony of that which Your hand has made – the suns, moons, stars, clouds that bring us light, warmth, rain and shade; the soil, the streams, lakes and ocean, the grass and trees, animals and birds with which we share the gift of life and provisions of nature – and say “Thank You”

 

Reader B: For failing to live up to the privilege and responsibility of managing and caring for the earth we ask for forgiveness. For our self-centered exploitation of the earth’s resources to the detriment of others, forgive us. For satisfying our extreme appetites and comfort in ways that have unjustly harmed the earth and brought suffering to others, have mercy on us. 

 

We now come in repentance and plead that the light of your love be rekindled in our hearts and that we will use our hands in the service of your Creation, through Christ our Lord. Amen

 

Song

 

Scripture Readings

Choose one or two readings from the suggested list, the reader may end the reading by saying

 

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church

Thanks be to God

 

Reflection and Sharing

This could be:

(a) A reflection on the theme using the portions of scripture chosen for the service and/or

(b) A sharing on the harm humans have brought to the earth and its inhabitants and the ways we can work for climate justice.

 

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,

   who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried;

    he descended to the dead.

    On the third day he rose again;

    he ascended into heaven,
    is seated at the right hand of the Father,
    and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

 

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

 

Intercessions

(Provide cards for people to write prayers on. Invite people to write prayers on them before the service begins or distribute them during the service. The prayers on each card can be read out during the intercessions and pasted on a board or elsewhere, or the prayers below can be used.)

 

The prayers we say are reminders of our fears about climate change and our hopes for climate justice. We pray to the God over us and the same God who is within us by the Spirit empowering us for action.

 

Let us pray

 

For vulnerable, poor and devastated communities who are already suffering the effects of climate change

Giver of life sustain your creation

 

For the land, the waters, the islands, the air, the animals and plants which struggle for survival as a result of human greed and abuse

Giver of life sustain your creation

 

For industrialised nations which urgently need to make adjustments to their lifestyles and adopt appropriate environmental policies

Giver of life sustain your creation

 

For developing nations whose national economy is largely dependent on earning from export crude petroleum and other polluting substances, who will have to diversify their economies

Giver of life sustain your creation

 

For an increase in solidarity in all your people and practical support with those communities most affected by climate change

Giver of life sustain your creation

 

For ourselves, that we may adjust our lives to be in harmony with creation and that we may work for climate justice for all people

Giver of life sustain your creation

 

All these prayers we bring together in the prayer Jesus teaches us

 

The Lord’s Prayer

 

Song (during which an offering is collected for the Haitian SCM)

 

Prayer for WSCF

God we pray for the World Student Christian Federation. We thank you for the blessings you continually give to our Federation. This year we give thanks and praise for 115 years of WSCF work and witness.

 

We pray for the Federation at every level: locally, nationally, regionally and globally. We pray for all the students involved today, for the senior friends and for all those who support and encourage us.

 

We pray for the strengthening of the Federation’s work and that we may continually welcome more students into this ecumenical community of justice, love and peace.

 

We pray that your Holy Spirit will guide the Federation’s officers, Executive Committee and staff, and the entire Federation in the year ahead.

 

We pray that every part of the Federation may more effectively proclaim your gospel to the students of the world so ‘that they may all be one’.

Amen

 

The Peace

The peace of the Lord be always with you

And also with you

Let us share a sign of Christ’s peace with each other

Participants share a sign of God’s peace with each other

 

The Benediction

May we live in peace and justice with all our sisters and brothers

May we live in harmony with God’s creation

May our hearts move in compassion to bring succour and hope to the helpless May we commit to care for God’s creation and God’s people

May the blessing of God the creator, the liberator and the sustainer of life be amongst us now and always

Amen.

 

Liturgy prepared by the Reverend Ejike Okoro (Nigeria) on behalf of the Africa Region, formatted and edited by IRO

RENEWING THE EARTH: CLIMATE JUSTICE AND EQUITY

 

SCRIPTURAL TEXT

Psalm 104: 30: “When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth”

 

THE CHALLENGE

The reality of global climate change, resulting from the impact of accumulated human activities, make the renewal of the earth an urgent imperative. To renew entails rebuilding the disintegration and repairing damage. The harm done to the environment cannot be addressed rightly, adequately and in an enduring way without the implementation of climate justice policies.

 

“When the policies and activities of one country or generation harm both other nations and later generations, they constitute serious injustices. Recognizing the broad threat posed by anthropogenic climate change, advocates for an international climate policy development process have expressly aimed to mitigate this pressing contemporary environmental threat in a manner that promotes justice. [1]

 

Responding adequately to climate change has remained an onerous task for world leaders, policymakers and for individuals.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL THEOLOGY

For the Church, the concept of environmental responsibility and climate justice stem out of its theology, ethics and spirituality. When theological and spiritual perceptions are weak or distorted, human attitudes and behaviors are likely to treat creation with levity and laxity.

 

In the beginning

The opening chapters of the book of Genesis describe an unfolding process of creation, at the end of which; “God looked at what he had done. All of it was very good” (Gen. 1: 31). Creation was pleasant to dwell in, at peace and in harmony with itself and its Creator. Human responsibility for creation is recorded in Gen. 2: 15 – “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it”. Cultivation, the care and guarding of the environment, was and still remains humankind’s fundamental privilege and responsibility.

 

Adam and Eve

With sin, which is the gratification and promotion of the human self beyond that appropriate to it, came disharmony and distortions to the earth. For example, what is recorded in Gen. 3:6 – “The woman stared at the fruit. It looked beautiful and tasty. She wanted the wisdom that it would give her, and she ate some of the fruit. Her husband was there with her, so she gave some to him, and he ate it too” resulted in Gen. 3: 17 – “And he said to the man, Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse…”  

 

Cain and Abel

Cain’s answer to the question “Where is your brother Abel?” (Gen. 4: 9) to which he replied - “How should I know? … Am I supposed to look after my brother?” got the reprimand from God – “Because you killed Abel and made his blood run out on the ground, you will never be able to farm the land again”. (Gen. 4: 11). The case of Cain and Abel is a clear demonstration that we are not only to care about ourselves but to consider how the things we do affect others, directly and indirectly.

 

The Flood

The destruction of every living creature on the earth with the flood was because “The LORD saw how bad the people on earth were and that everything they thought and planned was evil” and “Cruelty and violence have spread everywhere.” (Gen. 6: 5, 13). Their thought patterns and plans brought evil, cruelty and violence to others.  The preservation and replenishing of the earth was made possible through Noah; a just man/a righteous man (Gen. 5:9). 

In other words Noah did the right things.

 

Sin and the creation

The environmental crisis the world is facing today is one big demonstration of the gravity of the destructive power of sin and how extensively this can affect the well-being of others. Our own and our society’s attitudes and behaviors have a direct impact on creation.

The personal and corporate question then will be what kind of meaning and spirituality do other created things bring to us when and if we encounter them?  Is our world one which revolves around us, or do we consider that we share the earth with others? Is there an understanding that the purpose of the earth is for the common good of all that exists in it – from the past, the present and for future generations? Does creation exist to serve us only or do we equally have a responsibility to serve, save, replenish and renew it?

 

THE CALL FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE AND EQUITY

The flow of water in streams and rivers points us to the flow of life, as we drink it and use it in numerous aspects of our lives. Water is a major constituent of the human body and other living things. Rain waters the ground and causes plants to sprout. Tragically widespread pollution of water from fuel combustion, toxic waste and oil spillage means that millions are unable to have safe drinking water.

The top soil we stand, walk and play on is not only the source of our daily food, but the means of livelihood for 70 – 80 per cent of the population of most developing nations who engage in subsistent farming. Of equal importance is that these first few centimeters of earth are home to numerous living organisms and creatures who share the soil with us. When climatic conditions blow or wash off this top soil it brings untold hardship, suffering and death to many people, livestock and other creatures.

 

The poorest people of the world are already suffering the effects of a changing climate. Though these poor folk have done the least to bring about the present climatic conditions, they have been the first to feel the impact of it and bear the brunt of its devastations.

 

Some of the facts to consider as we think about atmospheric justice and equity are[2]:

  • Today’s rich nations are responsible for global warming. Industrialized nations, where only about 20 percent of the world’s population resides, have emitted far more greenhouse gas emissions than developing nations. Rich countries therefore face the biggest responsibility and burden for action to address climate change.
  • Rich countries therefore must support developing nations adapt, to avoid the polluting (i.e. easier and cheaper) path to development—through financing, debt cancellations and technology transfer.
  • The world’s poorest countries account for just 0.4 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions. 45 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are produced by the G8 countries alone.
  • The environmental consequences of the policies of industrialized nations have had a large, detrimental and costly effect on developing countries — especially the poor in those countries, that are already burdened with debt and poverty. Developing world debt and poverty has diverted immense resources from sustainable development. It is unfair to expect the developing world to make emissions reductions in the same way.
  • Industrialized nations should owe over 600 billion dollars to the developing nations for the associated costs of climate changes. This is three times as much as the conventional debt that developing countries owe the developed ones. Some researchers have called this the “natural debt” of the North, as against the financial debt of the South. 
  • Developing countries will also be tackling climate change in other ways. Market and energy reforms to promote economic growth. Development of alternative fuels to reduce energy imports. Aggressive energy efficiency programs. Use of solar and other renewable energy to raise living standards in rural locations. Reducing deforestation. Slowing population growth; and switching from coal to natural gas to diversify energy sources and reduce air pollution. 

A COMMON OBLIGATION

The challenge to care for the environment, our common heritage, is a collective and universal duty belonging to all humanity. This responsibility is not just for the present but also to protect the interest of future generations. It is a responsibility that concerns us individually, the Church, communities, nation states and the international community.

To renew the earth we must be in solidarity with one another because we are all in this together. All the stakeholders must get involved. We need to make strong commitments to adopting more environment-friendly lifestyles. For us as students, we need knowledge-building programmes about the effects of climatic change and what needs to be done. Political advocacy will also be necessary to set the standards for best practices in emissions by industries, developing environmental policies, enacting climatic regulatory laws together with compensations for climatic damages caused. The Church should also bring issues of climatic change, justice and environmental responsibility and spirituality into her worship life.

 

May the Spirit of God breathe on us so that new life will come to the earth. Amen.

 

 

 

Bible study prepared by the Reverend Ejike Okoro (Nigeria) on behalf of the Africa Region, formatted and edited by IRO

 


[1] Preview of “Atmospheric Justice: A Political Theory of Climate Change” by Steve Vanderheiden (Winner of the 2009 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award of the ISA’s Environmental Studies Section)

[2] Gleaned from various sources including: Ecological Spirituality, Eco-justice Notes, Eco-Ministries Newsletter 24/4/09, Climate Justice and Equity by Anup Shah 2009, World Bank, Transport Economics and Sector Policy Briefing, quoted in Collision Course: Freetrade’s free ride on the global climate, New Economics Foundation 2000, The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, World Resources Institute report 2003, Center for Science and Environment 2002, Christian Aid report 1999, Down to Earth magazine 2007.

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