Integrity of creation

Let us pray (in silence) [that we may strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth]


God of all the earth,
you have given us the heritage
of this good and fertile land;
grant that we may so respect and use it
that others may thank us
for what we leave to them;

through Jesus, the Christ,
who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

NZPB p. 636b

"To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth" was the fifth mark of mission added to the other four by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1990. Leaving aside my own concern that worship of God is not writ large as the primary mission of the church, we are probably and sadly not surprised at how slow the church has been in recognising our responsibility towards creation in our mission.

I am not able to locate any history of the above collect prior to the first New Zealand revision in 1966 where it read:

God of the nations, we praise you for our heritage in this land; grant, we pray, that others may thank you for what we leave to them, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Not hugely focused on safeguarding, sustaining, and renewing! More a prayer that the future might be grateful for what we leave them!

Possibly a better tone is found in the 1970 revision of this collect:

Eternal Lord God, we thank you for the good and beautiful things of our country; grant us grace rightly to share these gifts and so to use them that others may enjoy this heritage and praise your holy name, now and forever. Amen.

Someone else will have to explain why the final revision, dating from 1984, changes thanking God to thanking us!

There is a Rogation thread in this prayer - that time, traditionally Sunday up to and including Wednesday directly prior to Ascension Thursday, when farmers had their crops blessed in the Northern Hemisphere focus on Spring. The 1970 Roman Catholic calendar revision removed Rogation days. New Zealand Anglicans, with their seasons half a year out from their Northern Hempisphere siblings, creatively have placed Rogation Days either side of the commemoration of St Francis of Assisi (4 October). There has been suggestion that the four Sundays of September form a "Season of Creation". Whilst I would support a creation-centred reading of the scriptures at this and other times of the year, I would think it unnecesary to abandon the ecumenical and international gains made by our current lectionary agreements. We can also bring much stronger emphasis on our responsibility towards creation into our prayers, including our eucharistic prayers as we gather around God's creation in bread and wine, and appropriate resources for this are to be found on this site.

Even a reflection on the collect above will note how much it still focuses on humans and creation's value to us - and how much further we need to move to appreciate creation's value in itself.
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