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The Heavens Declare the Glory of God: Resources on the Theme of Creation

The church confesses that God is the maker of heaven and earth and of all things within them. This conviction about origins has great implications for the way we view the world around us. We care for this world, we see beauty in it, we recognize God’s glory expressed in it, we aim to protect it, and we grieve when it is abused and damaged. The church also confesses that God has created all human beings in his own image. Male and female, old and young, strong and weak—all carry the stamp of God’s image as moral, ethical, and spiritual beings called into a unique covenant relationship with their creator. This conviction leads us to view each human being as having God-given dignity and being worthy of respect, care, and honor.

These convictions have implications for our corporate worship. The worshiping community needs to give praise and thanks for the creation; to express grief and pain at the abuse, pollution, and corruption of what God has created; and to offer prayers for God’s blessing on the seasons and on our faithful use of provisions God makes available through the creation. In our corporate worship we also need to affirm human efforts to carry out God’s command to exercise obedient supervision over all God has created; to seek wisdom in our tasks of creative efforts; and to seek discipline in our work of being caretakers.

In certain seasons this worship takes on a special urgency. At times during the church year we have opportunity to affirm the value of life and to support and encourage those who are burdened with the weaknesses of life in a fallen world. In spring we ask for God’s blessing on a growing season. In fall we give thanks for harvest times. And in times of national and world crisis and concern we call on God corporately for aid and direction. These concerns may be the focus of an entire service or may be components in a service that also includes other themes.

Call to Worship

Who is this God whom we have come to worship?

God is the creator of all.

The creator of birds and trees, wind and sea?

God is the creator of all things seen and unseen.

Then let us worship the God of creation,

the God of all things great and small.

—from Belonging to God: Catechism Resources for Worship. © 2003, Presbyterian Church (USA), Office of Theology and Worship. Used with permission of Westminster John Knox Press.

Opening Prayers

We praise you, God almighty,
for the power you have shown in creating the world.
We thank you for your love in redeeming us from sin
and in creating us anew in Christ.
Grant us strength in this life to honor you, Lord God,
both in worship and in witness, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

—from Prayers for Today’s Church by R. H. L. Williams, p. 36, #55. © 1977,
Augsburg Publishing House (Minneapolis, MN 55440). Used by permission.

A prayer especially mindful of children
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Everything we see reminds us of your power and glory
because you made everything out of nothing.
You made the sun and the moon,
you made the land and the sea,
you made the birds and the fish and all the animals,
and you made us to love you and take care of your creation.
We praise you for all your gifts
and for helping us take care of your world.
Thank you for your creativity and your love.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! Amen.

—based on Psalm 8

For two readers and congregation

Send forth your Spirit, Lord;
renew the face of the earth.

Reader 1: Lord, you have made so many things. How wisely you made them all.

Reader 2: The earth is filled with your creatures.

Reader 1: There is the ocean, large and wide,

Reader 2: where countless creatures live, large and small alike.

Reader 1: The ships sail on it, and in it plays the leviathan,

Reader 2: the sea monster that you made.

Send forth your Spirit, Lord;
renew the face of the earth.

Reader 1: All of them depend on you

Reader 2: to give them food when they need it.

Reader 1: You give it to them, and they eat it;

Reader 2: you provide food, and they are satisfied.

Send forth your Spirit, Lord;
renew the face of the earth.

Reader 1: When you turn away, they are afraid;

Reader 2: when you take away their breath, they die and go back to the dust from which they came.

Reader 1: But when you give them breath, they are created;

Reader 2: you give new life to the earth.

Send forth your Spirit, Lord;
renew the face of the earth. Amen.

—based on Psalm 104:24-30;
from With All God’s People: The New Ecumenical Prayer Cycle, Orders of Service, pp. 45-46.
© 1989, World Council of Churches.

Creator God,
your presence is as the wind, the breath and sustainer of life.
We are grateful for being a part of your beautiful creation:
rugged mountains, rolling plains, and uncultivated deserts.
We thank you for the birds of the air, animals, and fish of the sea.
For purity of water and air and healing medicines that remind us of the need for holy virtue in life, physical and spiritual. In your holy mystery, you have revealed that we are God’s children, a wonderful mosaic of humanity with different cultures and heritages. We have a work yet to do, to work for truth and equity. We pray that we might always be found faithful, reflecting your love. Cause light to overcome the darkness of the world through your Son Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.

—Cecil Corbett (Native American Presbyterian), in A Book of Reformed Prayers
(© 1998 Westminster John Knox Press) p. 159.

Prayer of Confession

God of all creation,
you loved us into being,
yet we often flee our rightful place in your creation.
We confess that we exploit the gifts you place around us
and dominate the richness of the natural order.
Forgive our greedy grasping.
We confess our part in the devastation of our planet home,
mirrored in the violence of cities,
and the brokenness of hearts.

Forgive and restore us, O God.
Nurturing God, remind us of other ways to live
and of a place called home,
where creation reflects your goodness
and each thing lives in balance with all others.
Come and find us, set us right again,
and take us home. Amen.

—from Celebrate God’s Presence: A Book of Services for the United Church of Canada
by Janet Cawley, p. 32. © 2000. Used by permission of the author.

Assurance of Pardon

Our world, broken and scarred, still belongs to God.

He holds it together and gives us hope.

With the whole creation we wait for the purifying fire of judgment.

For then we will see the Lord face to face.

God will be all in all,
righteousness and peace will flourish,
everything will be made new,

and every eye will see at last
that our world belongs to God!
Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus.

—from Our World Belongs to God, st. 18, 58

Prayer for Illumination

Lord God,
at the beginning of time, your Spirit moved over the waters.
So send your Spirit to us now to open our hearts and minds
to receive the re-creating power of your Word.
Through Christ, Amen.

—from The Worship Sourcebook

Profession of Our Church’s Faith

Grateful for the advances in science and technology,
we make careful use of their products,
on guard against idolatry and harmful research,
and careful to use them in ways that answer
to God’s demands to love our neighbor
and to care for the earth and its creatures.
Our world belongs to God.
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

—from Our World Belongs to God, st. 52

Prayers of the People

The following is a guide for extemporaneous prayers. The pattern provides a suggested text for the opening and closing of each part of the prayer and calls for extemporaneous prayers of thanksgiving, petition, and intercession.

Creator God,
we praise you for creating a world filled with beauty and variety.
We thank you for revealing yourself
through the beauty of a flower and the power of a storm.

Today we particularly marvel at the beauty of . . .
for your work in the world, especially . . .
for evidence of your presence in the church and local community.
for creating humanity in your image and
for our task as caretakers of this world and all it contains.

Yet we come before you, acknowledging that we have failed in our task as stewards of this world.
Along with creation we look forward to the new creation.
As we wait, we pray that we may be greater imagebearers of you,
as evidenced in
our care of creation, especially . . .
our work toward peace and reconciliation in our world, especially . . .
our government and all who lead . . .
the church worldwide and particularly the work of . . .
...
the ministry of this church as we . . .
in our love and care for persons who have particular needs, especially . . .
We offer these prayers in the name of our creating God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
whom with all creation we worship now and through eternity. Amen.

—from The Worship Sourcebook

Lord, you saw the wheel in your mind before we saw it roll on your good earth. You put iron in the bowels of your earth and imagined the great girders that would hold up bridges over land and sea. You heard the motor in your mind before we revved it up on our roads. You saw the computer chip before we harnessed it in our offices and the laser before we discovered how to use it for blasting mines or for performing delicate surgery.

Now bless our hands as we manipulate the machines we have made. Teach us how to use them wisely so that we will not be used by them. Bless our grinding and polishing, our honing and hammering. Let our demands for precise and careful work be as rigorous as yours so that we may rest as safely in our cars and planes as in your arms.

Help us in all this, Lord, with joy and thanks, to see your upholding hand, great creator of metal and mountain, master artist of sunset and rainbow. May we not sit on foam rubber without feeling your grace or read by a lightbulb without feeling a current of thankfulness for your marvelous creation running through our veins. Hear our prayer for your Son’s sake. Amen.

—by Mike Vanden Bosch, in RW 14

Closing Prayer

A prayer especially mindful of children
God, our creator,
thank you for all that you have made,
and help us remember every day
always to take care of your world
for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

—from The Worship Sourcebook

Artwork by Tanja Butler, from Icon: Visual Images for Every Sunday (© 2000, Augsburg Fortress, 1-800-421-0239, www.worshipsourceonline.com).

Used by permisssion.

These resources are selected from the Creation section of The Worship Sourcebook, a collection of spoken prayers and other resources for worship. Each section begins with an introduction that sets the context for the various parts of the worship service (Part One) or a given theme of Christian worship (Part Two). For more information on The Worship Sourcebook, see pp. 6–9 and the inside back cover.

Excerpt
Scriptures and Statements
of Faith Applying
to the Theme of Creation

The following texts are particularly appropriate for sermons or for supplemental liturgical use.

Genesis 1
Genesis 2
Deuteronomy 4:32-39
Job 38-39
Psalm 8
Psalm 19:1-6
Psalm 33
Psalm 95:1-7
Psalm 104
Psalm 139:13-16
Psalm 148
Isaiah 42:5-9
Isaiah 43:1-7
Isaiah 45:7-8
Isaiah 51:12-16
Romans 1:16-25
Romans 8:19-22
Ephesians 1:3-10
Colossians 1:15-23
1 Timothy 4:4-5
Revelation 4:11

Belgic Confession, Art. 2, 12, 14-15
Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 6, 9
Canons of Dort, Pt. III/IV, Art. 1
Westminster Confession, Chap. IV, Sec. 1-2
Our Song of Hope, st. 2
Our World Belongs to God, st. 7-12, 14-18