Excerpted from Cultivating Care for Creation, an Advent Guide for Lectionary Year A from the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host! Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike, old and young together!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the Lord!
There is nothing more beautiful than the love for all of Creation illustrated in Psalm 148. Today is a day to savor these images, connecting perhaps to moments in our own lives when our praise of God’s Creation has elevated us, inspired us, nurtured and strengthened us. We feel it when we walk in the woods, or sit in the sun on a park bench; when our hands are in the garden, or we put our feet in the sand. This sense—this feeling of wholeness, connectedness—isn’t limited only to the natural elements of the world. It’s there, too, when we are in our homes and our houses of worship, and during the ceremonies and celebrations that draw us together.
On this first Sunday after Christmas, we are offered a great opportunity to reflect and share memories of these moments, to delight in one another’s delight. Psalm 148 is a song of praise!
And yet, where are we practicing praise of the Creator? Consider the environmental chaos we are experiencing as a result of a changing ecological climate. People of faith can step up and become the leading protectors of God’s glorious creation.
Scripture instructs us, not only to praise the Lord, but to praise all of creation. And all of creation, from the heavens above to the earth below, are called to praise God.
The Council’s Creation Care Program, NC Interfaith Power & Light (NCIPL) tells and lives a new story of partnership with the natural world that overturns the destructive story of dominion. We believe this new story is essential to creating the will to address the climate crisis. This belief is at the core of our theory of change; change happens when we connect our own gifts and strengths to the world’s places of need. When we do so in community with others, we are empowered and connected to work that is life giving and in alignment with God’s will.
NCIPL works with faith communities to identify and implement positive, hope-filled responses to climate change as a moral imperative. We believe it is through NCIPL’s values-based messaging that people of faith will awaken and respond to the realities of a changing climate. Through community engagement, hearts and minds will be educated, inspired, and mobilized to protect the natural environment and the health and well-being of all North Carolinians.
PRAISE BE TO GOD!
Prayer: Holy God, today we give thanks for the gift of your son Jesus. And we know that you will guide us as we move beyond celebrating the birth of the child in the manger towards the epiphany of praising you for all the grandeur of the Earth and Heavens above. We pray that we will know best how to love and worship you by caring for all your Creation.
We Praise you, Creator God, and therefore we call all people of faith to come together. We must come together because our love for and care of Creation inspires it; our concern for justice, freedom and peace demands it; and what we can learn from each other requires it.
We must truly awaken to the realization that might is not right; that human power is not self-sufficient or absolute, and that our trust is in something greater than ourselves.
Dear Lord, grant us a sense of obligation to stand on the side of the poor, the hungry, and the oppressed, and to serve the cause of Eco-justice for All. As we praise you in this way, and through the teachings of Jesus, we are blessed with a profound hope that good choices for All of Life will finally prevail.
We praise you again and again, Creator God, and we offer you our hearts and our hands for the protection of your Creation.