"Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you, and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands."
Since 1970, Earth Day has been set aside to raise global awareness of the need for environmental protection. Stewardship of our planet has always been a part of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Yet it has taken on greater urgency in our day as we face the troubling realities of climate change. Pope Francis not only took the name of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology, but in May 2015, he released a major encyclical – Laudato Si, or Praise be to You – to call our attention to the exploitation and degradation of our common home.
Reading 1: "Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbor, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth. When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered." (Laudato Si, no. 70)
Reading 2: "A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing and limiting our power." (Laudato Si, no. 78)
Light and Darkness, night and day. We marvel at the mystery of the stars.
Moon and sky, sand and sea. We marvel at the mystery of the sun.
Twilight, high noon, dusk and dawn. Though we are mortal, we are Creation's crown.
Flesh and bone, steel and stone. We dwell in fragile, temporary shelters.
Grant steadfast love, compassion, grace. Sustain us, Lord; our origin is dust.
Splendor, mercy, majesty, love endure. We are but little lower than the angels.
Resplendent skies, sunset, sunrise. The grandeur of Creation lifts our lives.
Evening darkness, morning dawn. Renew our lives as You renew all time.
— Provided by the Rabbinical Assembly of the United Synagogue of America
Sending Forth: God, Creator of All. Give us the awe to marvel at Your creation. Give us the hearts that long for connection to the land, air and sea. Give us minds that grasp the greatness of our task. And give us the hope and joy that come with laboring alongside You in all that we do. Amen.