Thursday, June 10, 2010

Prayer vigil for the Gulf of Mexico

It began at 7:30 last night, at the city beach in Fairhope, Alabama. There were a lot of people there, maybe almost 100. (I am no good at estimating crowd size.) I didn't think there would be so many, because this was the second prayer vigil in a row; there was one the night before last, too, but we didn't go to that one.

We began assembling in a picnic pavilion, and everyone got a candle and a sheet of paper with prayers and a short message on it. There was a moment of silence, and then prayers were read as a litany, the officiant reading one line and the people reading the next. Most of them seemed to have been taken from an Anglican prayer book, but the first one was adapted from Pope John Paul II.

Prayer vigil on the beach

Prayer Vigil for our Coast
Fairhope, Alabama
June 9, 2010

Officiant: 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 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 for the 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, each fitting 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. In your name we pray. Amen. (Adapted from a prayer from Pope John Paul II, November 22, 2001)

A reading from the book of Genesis
"Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." (Genesis 1:26)

At its core, "dominion" over God's creation is not lording over creation and using it as we choose without regard to the rest of God's creation and those generations of humans that come after us. Dominion in this instance is the proper stewardship of the earth. Stewardship of the earth and its natural resources is not about economic theories or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. Stewardship of the earth is not a "Republican" thing, or a "Democrat" thing, or a "Libertarian" thing, or an "Independent" thing. It is "our" thing. It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both "the human environment" and the natural environment. It is about our human stewardship of God's creation and our responsibility to those who come after us. Consequently, stewardship begins with willing obedience to the great commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind . . ." "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37) Stewardship grows out of love for God and for each other. Motivatied by such love, we should never do anything that despoils our planet or wastes its natural resources.

Litany for our environment:
(Taken in part from the Litany for the Beckwith Camp and Conference Center Summer Camp [Beckwith Camp is an Episcopal camp for south Alabama, particularly Mobile and Baldwin Counties]
Officiant: Glorify God, all works of the Lord
People: Praise the Lord, now and forever.
O: In heaven beyond us, and this place by the bay,
P: Praise the Lord, now and forever.
O: In peace, let us pray for the Spirit of the Lord to renew the earth and the seas and all of God's creation.
P: Lord, hear our prayer.
O: For the Gulf of Mexico and all it touches, including Mobile Bay, Bon Secour Bay, Weeks Bay, and the contiguous rivers, tributaries, and wetlands, that they may be kept as pure as you created them.
P: Lord, hear our prayer.
O: For all who work on the waters that they be safe from harm; for all who have been injured, for all who have died, and for all who mourn.
P: Lord, hear our prayer.
O: For all who support their families and communities from the harvest of the waters.
P: Lord, hear our prayer.
O: For all who live along these waters and all who provide places of recreation for others.
P: Lord, hear our prayers.
O: For all who explore the earth, the sea, and under the sea for the natural resources of your creation for the good of all.
P: Lord, hear our prayer.
O: For your forgiveness for our greed in using more than we need of the resoures of your making, and for all the ways our greed has hurt your creation.
P: Lord, hear our prayer.
O: For all creatures of your making and for the natural habitants you have willed for them, that they be protected from all dangers.
P: Lord, hear our prayer.
O: For the governments of our nation, states, and communities, that they may serve your will for the good of everyone.
P: Lord, hear our prayer.
O: For all who are working now to remedy the Gulf oil spill, including BP, the Coast Guard, other national, state, and local agencies, and the volunteers, that they may be blessed with safety and success.
P: Lord, hear our prayer.
O: For deliverance from fear, anxiety, and anger,
P: Lord, hear our prayer.
O: For your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven,
P: Lord, hear our prayer.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for thy love's sake. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 71)

Most gracious God, help us to collectively do what we can to rememdy this oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and to be ever vigilant to prevent such spills in the future. Help us to be grateful to you for all that you have given us; the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the wonderful natural resources that we have at our disposal. Help us also to be responsible stewards of these limited resources so that our children's children will be able to enjoy these blesssings in their lifetimes. In Jesus' name we preay. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our tespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptaion, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lord, it is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be. The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you. The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace. The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities. In your name we pray. Amen
("Night Prayer," New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 184)


lailani said...

Great words to pray when one can't think of what else to say, when the crisis that is in play for many and looming for so many more.

Thank you

FancyHorse said...

You're welcome, lailani.

Cherdecor said...

I heard today that the humane societies around the gulf are filling up. People are bringing their pets there because they have no money to feed and take care of them. It must be getting tough there.

FancyHorse said...

This has been going on since the economy began to tank, nationally. I hadn't heard about any increase recently, but when people lose their jobs, they can't feed their pets (nor themselves) :-(