September saw a spectacular worship series unfolding in the Pilgrim sanctuary as we shared with many congregations of different denominations around the world in the Season of Creation.
Under the theme of “The Wisdom of Creation,” we traversed the rising oceans, marvelled at the abundance of plants and animals with whom we enjoy the world, were moved by the sounds of the storm to pray for rain at this time in our land*, wondered at our place in the cosmos, and counted our blessings with the animals – both up at Galore Hill in the wide open spaces and in a somewhat different, digital service at Pilgrim.
Each week, we shared through prayer and song in the groaning of the Earth and listened through Scripture to God’s hope for this very good creation. We were challenged by climate champions from all walks of life who are passionate about environmental justice and listened for ways in which we can each contribute toward a world in which all people, creatures and the Earth can flourish.
On Friday, the 20th of September, we held an early morning love feast for the earth and some of our members participated in the Global Climate Strike in support of our youth and as an expression of our commitment to be part of Christ’s reconciling work for all creation.
A helpful resource for people looking to participate in the Season of Creation in September 2020 is the UnitingEarth website.
The Earth is precious to God.
May we protect and preserve it
until every creature finds perfect peace
Yours in Christ,
* The next day, as I conducted a funeral for a lifelong farmer in one of communities in the Southern Region, his family and friends were deeply moved by the rain falling constantly on the open grave into which they had thrown handfuls of wheat.
On Sunday, 29 September, the Congregations within the Southern Region of the Uniting Church in Australia were invited to meet to celebrate the Season of Creation.
In highlighting God’s Creation, we met in the natural environment upon Galore Hill – a substantial geological feature on the plains near Lockhart.
The event was attended by our Rev Yvonne Ghavalas, and 38 members of various Worshiping Communities from Lockhart, Pilgrim (Wagga Wagga), and Henty-Culcairn. Other denominations were also represented. Our ages ranged from very young to very senior !
The service saw our camping chairs circled around the improvised altar for prayer and praise with our music delivered by the modern creation of mobile phone and mini speakers.
Yvonne had posted illustrations of animals of God’s Creation in various places around the venue, each with a prayer composed by a child. We were sent to view these, singly or in two’s or three’s to view, reflect, and to make our own prayer offering for these creatures.
Yvonne then led us in reflecting on our place in the Creation story and concluded the service with Communion.
We all shared lunch and conversation with sandwiches and BBQ sausages and the ambience of the natural environment.
As a person who can find connection with God much more meaningful in remote areas than in a people-constructed building, I found the occasion very uplifting.
This occasion for gathering together members of Southern Region Congregations was one of three that Presbytery plans to hold annually and was a great opportunity to spend time breaking bread and getting to know a little of each other and fostering the relationships that make each Congregation more effective. By encouraging others and by sharing ideas and alternative approaches to the achievement of Christ’s mission we grow individually and collectively.
With the start of Spring and the celebration of the Season of Creation over the month of September, I have found myself spending much time in the garden enjoying the earlier lightening of the morning sky, the birdsong, and the riot of colour that has bloomed from bulbs planted in the faith that winter’s dark and cold would not endure for too long.
At the Wagga Wagga Uniting Church, new life is truly springing into being after a number of substantial changes this year: in ministry agents and members of Church council, in worship times and formats, in partnerships with community organisations and agencies, in involvement with the wider Southern Region, and even in this website which has received a much-needed facelift and opens up new opportunities for sharing and engaging.
Much like when I keep an eye on the irises to see what colour unfurls from their tight buds, or wonder at how those particular shades or pink, yellow and orange can possibly work pleasingly together, or check carefully every couple of days to see that the soil is still wet and the fragile things have a shady spot in which to shelter from the moving sun, these new things unfold and evolve slowly through attentive conversations, deepening relationships, and the ever-inspiring, transforming grace of God.
So, whether you are worshipping with us at Pilgrim or Wesley, wanting to be part of a caring online community, or simply looking for a burst of hope and inspiration on a bleak day, we pray that you will be blessed as you stroll through these posts and pages and spring into the new with us.