Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Communal liturgy for soul and creation

You already know about my admiration for Haitians and their strength of Spirit. You can also imagine how the challenges facing Haitians have been lying heavily on my heart since returning from our visit with partners there.

A special worship service held at Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver this week transformed that heavy burden into a hopeful, re-energized response—for long-term partnership with Haitians and for the groaning of all creation.

My soul was lifted on Tuesday evening as 250 of us gathered from varied faith traditions for an Earth Day Sacred Celebration, publicly lamenting the world’s suffering and receiving hope from the wisdom and call of our teachings. It was a humble privilege to share leadership with Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan, Imam Al-Khaliq, Aline LaFlamme (Aboriginal Pipe Carrier and Sundancer), Acharya Shrinath Dwivedi of the Global Hindu Foundation, Maureen Jack-LaCroix of the Multifaith Action Society, and the Rev. Bruce Sanguin, who serves Canadian Memorial United Church. It was also wonderful to be with so many United Church members of the Lower Mainland, both through this service and in worship at West Vancouver United the evening before.

Acharya Shrinath Dwivedi, Imam Al-Khaliq, myself, and Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan. Photo by Lucia Beamish.

The Multifaith Action Society creates opportunities for dialogue between faith traditions on issues of common concern and uses its Be The Change Earth Alliance to inspire and connect people for personal and communal response to our sustainability challenges. On Tuesday this work took the form of an inspiring liturgy.

Earth altar. Photo by Lucia Beamish.

Creation spirituality encourages such liturgical expressions. Lest you think this is new to Christianity, I commend to you Eastern Christian mysticism as well as medieval mystical theologians such as Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart, and Julian of Norwich. Gifts from creation-based traditions can help us reconnect with awe and wonder, the realities of social and ecological injustice, the evolutionary imperative to co-create with the Divine, and our response to the most urgent moral challenges of today. Blending words, images, and music from our faith traditions helped us reconnect with all four of these movements in worship. The service culminated in a shared meal of gifts of the earth, blessed by a multi-faith thanksgiving prayer and with the Rev. Bruce Sanguin offering these closing words:

May this meal signify for us our intention to enter into a new covenant,
with You, our creator, with all creation, and with one another,
a promise to walk gently upon this planet,
to raise our voice in the service of life,
to love kindness,
and to seek justice.

I hope that you’ve had equally inspiring Earth Week worship experiences, and that your soul, your community, and all of creation have been—and will be—blessed.

What liturgical experiences bless your soul to do God’s healing work?