Foundations for Worship
Resources for Observing the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
By David Rhoads, Director of Lutherans Restoring Creation
Representing the Eco-Justice Reformation Observance Team
Martin Luther. Martin Luther had a vibrant doctrine of creation. He embraced a view of incarnation based on the conviction that creation is good and capable of bearing the divine. His sacramental theology is the basis for affirming that all of life is sacred. Luther wrote: “God is substantially present everywhere, in and through all creatures, in all their parts and places, so that the world is full of God and He fills all, but without His being encompassed and surrounded by it” (Luther WA: XXIII,134.34-23:136.36). In this time of ecological stress, we can lift up and revitalize for our worship with this affirmation of God’s full and active presence in all creation.
Our vocation to worship God in creation. We have traditionally celebrated worship by focusing on our human relationship with God and our human relationships with each other. Now we need to fill our worship also with dimensions of God's relationship in, with, and under all of creation and our human relationship with the rest of creation. The anniversary of the Reformation is an opportunity to suffuse our worship with this dimension of our Lutheran tradition. It is our vocation as Christians called to serve and preserve Earth to worship in ways that reverence creation and seek to encounter God there.
Worship pledge. In observance of our ongoing commitment to the reformation of the church, we pledge to worship in ways that express our gratitude and praise to God as creator of all, Jesus redeemer of creation, and the Holy Spirit as the sustainer and fulfiller of creation. In worship, we celebrate creation, confess our sins against creation, grieve the losses of creation, and commit ourselves to care for Earth and to the well-being of those most vulnerable to ecological degradation. We do not worship creation. Rather, according to our biblical mandate, we worship with creation, lifting our voices in praise with the roaring of the seas, the singing of the forests, the gladness of the fields, and the lives of all creatures.
Re-forming our worship. You will find and create resources for worshipping with creation. It is hoped that they may lead to a transformative reformation in our worship that encompasses our entire relationship with God in creation.
Theology of Worship for a New Refoemation. On the site, see book references and links. For an overview of a theology of worship, read “A Theology of Liturgy in a New Key: Worshipping With Creation” from The Season of Creation: A Preaching Commentary, ed. Norman Habel, David Rhoads, and Paul Santmire (Fortress, 2011).
Website resources. For care for creation worship resources, visit “Let All Creation Praise” (www.letallcreationpraise.org), an ecumenical website sponsored by Lutherans Restoring Creation that is devoted to care for creation worship throughout the church year, including resources for celebrating an optional Season of Creation. You will find liturgies, familiar and new hymns, prayers, blessings, litanies, occasional services, commentary for preaching on the weekly lessons, guidelines for reading the Bible, ideas for greening the sanctuary, materials to celebrate a Season of Creation, and resources for personal devotions.
ELCA leaders for consultation and planning in care-for-creation worship.
Ben Stewart: Gordan A. Braatz Assistant Professor of Worship
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
1100 East 55th Street
Chicago, IL 60615
Lisa Dahill: Associate Professor of Worship and Christian Spirituality
Trinity Lutheran Seminary
2199 E. Main Street
Columbus, OH 43209
Leah Schade, Pastor, PhD with specialties in preaching and worship
United in Christ Lutheran Church
1875 Churches Road 17837
Nick Utphall, Pastor and Co-Director of www.letallcreationpraise.org
Saint Stephens Lutheran Church
5700 Pheasant Hill Road
Monona, WI 53716