Prayers for Justice and Care of Creation from South Africa

Today with great pleasure I share two prayers by Isobel Degruchy of South Africa. The first is a confession of both damage done and arrogance in attitude of human beings who should be caring for God’s creation.

My challenge to you who are readers — can you write an Assurance of Grace to follow this confession? What would it be to say that we are forgiven and how would we say it? What responsibilities attend that forgiveness. I would be honored if you can send your assurances to follow this prayer to where I receive liturgy to be shared here.

The prayer that follows is an Easter prayer. What’s that about?! Surely we are in August and Easter belongs in it’s little March/April box after we have beautifully and dutifully followed the Lenten path and walked the memories of Holy Week. Why would an Easter prayer break free to bother us in such an unconsecrated time? Why, indeed. I’ve found that Easter often has the effrontery to insert itself unexpectedly in our lives.

This prayer begins with the imagery of creation and moves on to call us all to notice … to notice a world of crucifixion fridays calling for contemporary easters in our lives … and in our churches. Consider what asking a congregation to pray this Easter prayer in the other seasons might mean for our time of worship and prayer together.

Confession of what we have done to creation

Lord, we are aware, as no others before us
of the vastness of our universe, your creation.
We are becoming more aware of its complexity,
its balance, its workings.
And in our arrogance we think it is there for our use,
its purpose to support our wants;
we think that we can control it.
We have rejected you the creator and your purpose.

But now we are becoming aware
of how things are going wrong,
of how we are irreparably damaging our earth.

Lord, forgive us our arrogance,
our refusal to see your purpose,
your purpose of love at the heart of your universe.
Forgive us and set us on the right path,
of loving your creation,
and working to restore it and protect it.

Easter Prayer

Lord, I see the beauty of your world,
the sparkling turquoise of the sea,
the solid mass of the mountains,
the fragile loveliness of a flower,
and I can praise you.

But there is that other ugly world, Lord,
that frightens me –
it overwhelms me, renders me helpless:
that world where people are prisoners to poverty,
violence and misery mark the measure of their lives;
they tread an endless treadmill with
no stopping – to stop is to fall off
into worse – a dark and endless pit.

Lord, I can’t bear to hear about it, to think about it
I can’t think how – or do I even care enough –  to act?
Lord, it is Good Friday – bad Friday –  writ large,
Bad Friday, Black Saturday repeated,
endlessly, like the treadmill.

We need Easter, Lord,
send Easter! – to the city’s slums
to the shacks, to the shebeens,
to the country’s desolation,
to the hearts and minds and wills of all.
Break upon our world with Easter.
Break open our world with Easter.

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2 Responses to Prayers for Justice and Care of Creation from South Africa

  1. I’m grateful not to be leading worship at the moment, in order to avoid this challenge. Who am I to voice forgiveness for such abuse? And yet, forgiveness, which is the privilege of the victim, not the priest, comes to us every day, from the suffering earth which continues to blossom and bring forth green goodness, and from the slums, where hope is born alongside despair.

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