Philip Newell offers a series of morning and evening prayers for each day of the week in his book, “Celtic Prayers from Iona.”
In true Celtic fashion, many of the prayers focus on creation.
I recently came across two of Newell’s prayers in this book that were especially meaningful to me and offer important reminders during the Advent/Christmas seasons.
The first prayer reads, “There is no plant in the ground but tells of your beauty, O Christ. There is no life in the sea but proclaims your goodness. There is no bird on the wing, there is no star in the sky, there is nothing beneath the sun but is full of your blessing. Lighten my understanding of your presence all around, O Christ. Kindle my will to be caring for Creation.”
The second prayer reads, “You are above me O God; You are beneath; You are in air; You are in earth; You are beside me; You are within. O God of heaven, you have made your home on earth in the broken body of Creation. Kindle within me a love for you in all things.”
Both of these prayers remind us that God may be found in the world around us. This is an important reminder.
Often I pray the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) when I am walking or hiking. I always make an effort to remember that God is with me when I pray.
One way I do this is by pausing after the words “who art in heaven” and adding “and also in [wherever I happen to be].”
I believe God is both transcendent and immanent. God is both far beyond me and also all around and within me.
Recognizing God’s nearness is important. The exciting Advent/Christmas message that Christ came as Immanuel – God with us – is important to hold on to at all times.
The other truth Newell’s prayers convey is that God’s Creation is to be loved and cared for.
If creation truly is “God’s Other Book” and reveals to us the glory of God, how can we not love the Creation? If creation tells of God’s beauty, proclaims God’s goodness and is a source of God’s blessing, how can we not long to care for it?
I would encourage you to pray with Newell, “Kindle within me a love for you in all things.” Likewise, pray, “Kindle my will to be caring for Creation.”
I truly believe that working to preserve and protect the creation is both a religious obligation and an act of worship.
I am also convinced that people of faith must now, more than ever, be willing to take a stand for creation care.
If we fail to care for the earth, we not only fail God, we fail ourselves. God forbid that should happen.
Chuck Summers is a pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Henderson, Kentucky. He is also a photographer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines and calendars; he has published three photography books. A version of this article first appeared on Seeing Creation, a blog that Summers co-authors with Rob Sheppard, and is used with permission.