Hearts Cracked Open: Creation Care Ministry

By Dan Vogel

We are now in the season of Easter, and the “penitential” season of Lent has just ended. Except I don’t think that Lent is simply about penance. It is as the prophet Joel 2:12 said: “Rend your hearts and not your garments.” What we give up during Lent isn’t transactional—it is transformational. The things we give up aren’t rectifying a balance sheet. We give up things to create a space in which we can crack our hearts open. To let God transform us.

Creation Care’s activities are in the same vein. On their own, they aren’t going to solve anything, but they can change hearts and get us moving in the direction to heal our planet.

Ongoing Transformations

Click to watch The Wedge Live’s news report on the blessing of our bike rack.

Last year, after many years of discussion, we put in a bike rack and then blessed it. That isn’t going to convince everyone to ride their bikes to church—but most Sundays, during the biking season the bike rack is full. Like the loaves and fishes! We might have to get a second one!

Last year, we also started to put native plants in the gardens around the parking lot. You saw many of them if you were reading the daily Lenten devotionals; you can also see the full collection of Jo Anna Hebberger’s pictures here. Native plants are beautiful and less harmful to the environment. They have a positive impact on native fauna as well—think of Monarch Butterflies feasting on milkweed. The planting won’t fix the climate change issue, but seeing and learning about these plants can change people’s minds and hearts.  

Looking Ahead

St. John’s is part of a year-long project of the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission (APLM), creating liturgy that responds directly to the Climate Crisis. You can read more about the project here. Only six faith communities from across North America were accepted, and St. John’s was one of them! APLM chose us for our innovation. We join with others to transform beyond our church walls.

This year we are planning a Creation Care liturgy for the Sunday before Earth Day — this coming Sunday, April 21. It is only one Sunday out of the year, but for those who attend, it will get them to look at the world around them differently; maybe even look at the Sunday Service differently.

We are planning other events. In the fall we hope to sponsor an EV Expo. Local sellers bring their cars to the parking lot on a Saturday. It isn’t trying to solve the gasoline car emissions problem. But it might change a few hearts.

Changing Our Relationship With The Land

Many local organizations have Land Acknowledgement statements which they use at the beginning of events. Creation Care has been working on creating one tailored for our parish and based on our faith traditions. If we can take a minute to recognize our relationship with God’s creation, recognizing those who came before us, we will think of the world differently. We will change the way we interact with the land.  

We are putting great care, thought, and energy into learning more about recognizing the Dakota tribe, their history on this land, and how it intersects with our history on it. We have coordinated a Sacred Sites Tour specifically for St. John’s on Saturday, May 4. The pilgrimage offers an opportunity to learn about Minnesota history from a Native perspective through story-telling and experiencing the sites in silence / meditation / reflection. Learn more and sign up here. Several of us have been on a Sacred Sites tour before, and believe you can’t take the tour and not be moved to take steps for restorative justice. The stories that are told will crack open hearts to do what Jesus commanded and bring the Kingdom of God on Earth. 

Every liturgy, every event, every plant and flower—every offering we undertake for Creation Care ministry has the hope that you might leave thinking about ways we can bring in the Kingdom.

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