For most churches, the time in the church year between Pentecost Sunday and the First Sunday of Advent is Ordinary Time. However, in more and more churches, a new church season is being celebrated, the Season of Creation, which usually runs from September 1 through October 4, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. According to the Season of Creation website, it is the time of the year when “Christians are invited to pray and care for creation.” An article on the United Church of Christ website entitled “An Introduction to Season of Creation: A Liturgical Earthcare Practice” by Robert Shore-Goss states that this season “can be a time to introduce your church to environmental issues through sermons, prayers, educational programs, and children’s programs.”
Churches observing the Season of Creation can focus on creation and creation care in Sunday worship services or by offering special prayer services. There are many resources for worship available online, including those on denominational worship websites. Ideas for children’s sermons during this time are available on the Children’s Addresses page of the Season of Creation website. Seasons of the Spirit, a lectionary based Sunday school curriculum for all ages which also includes worship materials, offers resources for the Season of Creation.
In Sunday school, churches may decide to follow the special lectionary readings and focus for each Sunday in the Years A, B, and C, or might choose to plan lessons based on other creation-related topics. Many Sunday school curriculums start the Sunday school year with the story of creation. You can find creation lesson ideas and activities online; for little ones check out DLTK’s Growing Together’s resources on The Creation Story. Pinterest also has plenty of ideas that focus on Creation for children of all ages, and the Rethinking Youth Ministry website has ideas for prayer stations for youth that are based on nature. For adults, the GreenFaith website offers a free, three-week, downloadable study called Splendor.
The Season of Creation usually ends on October 4, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, although some churches may extend the season further into the fall. We are seeing more churches celebrating St. Francis by offering a Blessing of the Animals, usually on the Sunday closest to October 4. Your Sunday school can also celebrate by learning how God calls us to care for the animals God created.
You can read a short biography of St. Francis from the Holy Spirit Interactive website here and there is a lesson plan available called “Pets Are a Blessing” on the Ministry-To-Children website. The Real Life at Home blog has “10+ Ideas for Celebrating St. Francis of Assisi with Young Ones” which can be adapted for use in Sunday school; it includes a list children’s books about St. Francis. This is also a good time to introduce children and youth to the Prayer of St. Francis.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.