When the Common Lectionary was created in 1983, it followed the pattern of the Roman Catholic Lectionary Mass (1969), with seasons focussing on the traditional calendar of the church year: Advent in preparation for Christmas, then Epiphany; Lent in preparation for Easter, then Pentecost Sunday. This took half of the calendar year (from late November to late May or early June, depending on the moveable dating of Easter each year).
For the other half of the year, there was a long period of “Sundays in Pentecost”. They were also called “Ordinary Sundays”, in recognition of the fact that they did not fall in the special seasons already noted; or “Proper”, derived from the Latin proprium, which referred to the parts of the liturgy which changed according to what was proper, or appropriate, to the day.
The Revised Common Lectionary (1992) continues this pattern, and is followed in many churches around the globe. Although created by a task force that was almost all-male (Gail Ramshaw was the only female member) and almost entirely Protestant (John Fitzsimmons was the sole Roman Catholic member), this lectionary is now used by almost 50 major Protestant denominations around the world.
In 1989, the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I (head of the Eastern Orthodox Church) declared 1 September to be a day of prayer for the natural environment. In 2008, the World Council of Churches invited all churches to observe a Time for Creation from 1 September to 4 October—the day which had long been kept as the feast day for St Francis of Assisi.
In 2019, Pope Francis adopted the Season of Creation for Roman Catholic worship. And so, in many churches around the world, September is now designated as a time to focus on Creation—a truly ecumenical festive season, involving Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant churches alike.
Saint Francis, of course, is remembered for his simplicity of living, as well as his care for the natural environment. His Canticle of the Sun (found in modern hymnals—AHB 3, and TiS 100, for instance) is a well-loved poem which praises all the elements of the natural environment and the cycle of life.
The current issue of With Love to the World, which I edit, is designated as the Creation issue. It starts before September and runs on into November; but at the heart is the Season of Creation. This year, we are extending the Season of Creation through the whole issue. Each week, three passages from Hebrew Scripture, chosen for what they say regarding the creation, are placed alongside the regular four passages from the lectionary.
Commentaries on each passage are offered from a different contributor each week, along with questions for discussion, a song that matches the theme, and a focus prayer for each day. There is an introduction to the additional biblical passages used in the Creation 2022 issue on my blog at https://johntsquires.com/2022/05/29/the-season-of-creation-in-with-love-to-the-world/
And there is a stunning cover photo, contributed by the Revd Sophie Lizares, who ministers in a Uniting Church congregation in Perth.
Contributors have been asked to focus on questions relating to care of the environment, living sustainably, and demonstrating responsible stewardship of the earth’s resources, as integral to the life of discipleship to which we are all called. It is an experiment in reading the passage each day with focus issues in mind. My hope is that this way of proceeding in this issue will prove valuable to subscribers to With Love to the World.
With Love to the World can be ordered as a printed resource for just $24 for a year’s subscription (see http://www.withlovetotheworld.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Ordering-and-paying-for-Website-7.vii_.2020.pdf) or it can be accessed on phones and iPads via an App, for a subscription of $24.49 per year (go to the App Store or Google Play).