Earth Day Service

Contributed by Jeanyne Slettom
Copyright: This liturgy was written by Jeanyne Slettom, Ph.D. and is made available through Process & Faith, a program of the Center for Process Studies. Used by permission.

This liturgy was written to reflect a process-relational theology.

Opening Words 

This is the world the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the world the Lord is still making; let us participate—humbly, and with care—in its making.

*Hymn  “This Is God’s Wondrous World” or “Praise to the Living God”


Reader 1: Sin is the refusal to acknowledge our dependence on God for life and breath and all things.

Reader 2: God of life, we confess that we often forget that we are utterly dependent upon you and interdependent with the rest of your creation.

People: Forgive us, O God, and inspire us to change.   

Reader 1:  The prophets Isaiah and Hosea said: The land lies polluted under its inhabitants. The beasts of the field, the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are dying.

Reader 2: God of mercy, we confess that we are damaging the earth, the home that you have given us. We buy and use products that pollute our air, land, and water, harming wildlife and endangering human health.

People: Forgive us, O God, and inspire us to change.

Reader 1:  Chief Seattle said: Whatever we do to the web of life we do to ourselves.

Reader 2:  God of justice, we confess that we have not done enough to protect the web of life. We have failed to insist that our government set standards based on precaution. We allow companies to release dangerous toxins that destroy fragile ecosystems and harm human beings, especially those among us who are most vulnerable.

People: Forgive us, O God, and inspire us to change.

All: God of compassion, today we acknowledge our dependence upon you and our interconnectedness with the whole web of life. We open our eyes, ears, and hearts to the pain of the earth, that we may be open to your truth, see your way of hope, and walk with courage in your way. Amen.

Job 38 & 39 (various)
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determines its measurements—surely you know! . . . who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? . . . Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked shaken out of it? . . . Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this! . . . Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together? . . . Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars, and spreads its wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes its nest on high?

*Hymn  “God in Great Love for Us Lent Us this Planet” or “All Things Bright and Beautiful”

from Is It Too Late?  by John B. Cobb, Jr.
It is the belief in this Spirit, the giver of life and love, that is the basis of hope. In spite of all the destructive forces we let loose against life on this planet, the Spirit of Life is at work in ever new and unforeseeable ways, countering and circumventing the obstacles we put in its path. In spite of my strong tendencies to complacency and despair, I experience the Spirit in myself as calling forth the realistic hope apart from which there is no hope, and I am confident that what I find in myself is occurring in others also.

Since what makes for life and love and hope is not simply the decision of one individual or another, but a Spirit that moves us all, I do not have to suppose that my own efforts are of great consequence in order to believe them to be worthwhile. I can recognize that they may even be futile or misdirected and still persist in them as long as no clearer light is given, for I see what I do as part of something much greater, something in which all persons participate to whatever extent they sensitively respond to the insights and opportunities that come their way. Belief in the Spirit is belief that I am not alone, that in working for life and love in hope, I am working with something much greater than myself, that there are possibilities for the future that cannot be simply projected out of the past, that even my mistakes and failures may be woven into a healing pattern of which I am not now aware.

Belief in the Spirit is no ground for complacency. There is no guarantee that people will respond to the Spirit’s prompting in sufficient numbers and with sufficient sensitivity to begin the healing of the planet. But there is the possibility. The future can be different from the past. Therefore there is hope. Where there is life, there is hope.

Litany for the Earth
“The Wisdom to Survive” (read responsively), by Wendell Berry

If we have the wisdom to survive, to stand like slow-growing trees on a ruined place,
Renewing, enriching it,
If we will make our seasons welcome here, asking not too much of earth or of heaven,
Then a long time after we are dead the lives our lives prepare will live here,
Their houses strongly placed upon the valley sides,
Fields and gardens rich in the windows. The river will run clear as we will never know it.
And over it, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be green meadows, stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down the old forest,
An old forest will stand, its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened. Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music risen out of the ground.
They will take nothing from the ground they will not return, whatever the grief at parting.
Memory, native to this valley, will spread over it like a grove, and memory will grow into legend, legend into song, song into sacrament.
The abundance of this place, the songs of its people and its birds, will be health and wisdom and indwelling light.
This is no impossible dream. Its hardship is its possibility.


*Hymn  “For the Beauty of the Earth” or “De Colores”

Job 12: 7-10
But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.

Unison Promise (read responsively)

May we be reminded here of our highest aspirations, and inspired to bring our gifts of love and service to the healing of the Earth.

May we know once again that we are not isolated beings but connected, in mystery and miracle, to God, to the universe, to this community and the Earth.

Benediction   “Wild Geese” (adapted), by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like wild geese, harsh and exciting—over and over announcing your place in the family of things. Go forth knowing your place, answering the call, and loving the Earth.