A Life of Grace for the Whole World, Youth Book

A Life of Grace for the Whole World, Youth Book

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819233806
Publisher: Church Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/15/2017
Pages: 48
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Jerry Cappel, an ordained Episcopal priest serving St. James Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Kentucky and as Environmental Network Coordinator for Province IV of The Episcopal Church, has an MDiv from Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, Tennessee, and a PhD in Religious Education from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He also serves as President of Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light and is a fellow with the Center for Religion and the Environment and for GreenFaith. He has worked as an author and editor of youth and adult education materials for Smyth & Helwys Publishing in Macon, Georgia, and as a Learning Consultant for Humana, Inc. in Louisville.

Stephanie M Johnson spent 20 years as an environmental planner and educator before entering ordained ministry. For 4 years, she worked as the Environmental Missioner for the Bishops of New England (Province 1). She holds a M Div and MST on environmental ministry from Yale Divinity School. She gives talks and lectures on faith and the environment, while also leading workshops on grief in the face of climate change and biblically based social justice and community organizing. She works extensively with youth on exploring current events and faith formation.

Read an Excerpt

A Life of Grace for the Whole World Youth Booklet

A Study Course on the House of Bishops' Pastoral Teaching on the Environment


By Jerry Cappel, Stephanie M. Johnson

Church Publishing Incorporated

Copyright © 2017 Jerry Cappel and Stephanie M. Johnson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8192-3380-6



CHAPTER 1

SESSION 1

A Time for Harmony with God's Creation


Opening Prayer

Creator, we give you thanks for all you are and all you bring to us for our visit within your creation. In Jesus, you place the Good News in the center of this sacred circle through which all of creation is related. You show us the way to live a generous and compassionate life. Give us your strength to live together with respect and commitment as we grow in your spirit for you are God, now and forever. Amen.


Take Note

A Life of Grace for the Whole World is about deepening our relationship with God and creation. People often learn about the environment in school, but don't often talk about it in church. During these sessions, we will explore and learn about why taking care of the earth is part of our faith life.

In our first session together, as we toured our church, we noted particular images of nature throughout the church and outside the building. This connection with nature makes sense because, throughout the Bible, stories are told about humanity's relationship with nature. Stories range from the parting of the Red Sea, to Moses climbing the mountaintop to hear God, to Jesus's parables about the nature of faith (which grows from a small mustard seed into flourishing life). Jesus preaches to thousands of people in the heart of nature — on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, on the plains, and from the mountain.

Throughout our time together, a "Tree of Life" — designed by the group — will be the central focus of our creative work as a visual symbol of harmony and healing of the earth.


Engage

Celebrating the beauty of God's creation is a way to deepen our appreciation of all that God loves. Often people write or draw to express these types of emotions, as illustrated by the psalms, which praise God for life and the beauty of the earth.


GOOD TO KNOW!

Alec Loorz founded the organization iMatter Movement as an international youth climate change effort. The Movement has inspired over 160 marches in 45 countries. www.imatteryouth.org/our-founder/


In the following space, either draw a picture of something in nature that gives you great joy in God or write a haiku or poem about God's creation.


Reflect

In the book of Genesis (the first book in the Bible) we read that:

God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." (Gen. 1:25–26)


Take a few minutes in silence. Then write a short prayer thanking God for all things in creation for which you are grateful. Then write another short prayer asking for God's wisdom in taking care of creation.

• Here's a start: Loving God, I am so thankful for ...

• Gracious God, guide me in the care of ...


Respond

Here, in each session of this Youth Booklet, we will extend a weekly challenge.

This week we challenge you to spend 5–10 minutes outside at least once during the week. Do so without distractions, including technology (like phones, music, etc.).

Take a few minutes to write — in a short list or in sentences — the answers to the following questions:

• What did you hear?


GOOD TO KNOW!

In 2016, twenty-one youth from the ages of 8–19, through the organization Our Children's Trust, filed a lawsuit against the federal government on the grounds that their lives were at risk from climate change.


• What did you smell?

• What did you see that you hadn't noticed before?


GOOD TO KNOW!

We are called to pay attention to the suffering of the earth. We know that ... we are now demanding more than [the earth] is able to provide. If we cannot live in harmony with the earth, we will not live in harmony with one another.

— HOUSE OF BISHOPS' PASTORAL TEACHING


• If you went outside more than once, did you notice different things the next time? If so, what were they?

• How did you feel? (For example, did you feel calm in the outside world or anxious to be back with your technology or inside?)


Closing Prayer

Loving God, we are grateful for the wonder of creation and the many gifts you have given us. We recognize that the earth is suffering because of how we live and act. We ask that you give us energy and courage to respond in hope and faithfulness so that the face of the earth will be renewed for all generations. Amen.

CHAPTER 2

SESSION 2

A Time for Care for the Whole Creation


Opening Prayer

We have forgotten who we are.
We have become separate from the movements of the earth.
We have turned our backs on the cycles of life.
We have forgotten who we are.

We have sought only our own security.
We have exploited simply for our own ends.
We have distorted our knowledge.
We have abused our power.
We have forgotten who we are.

Now the land is barren
And the waters are poisoned
And the air is polluted.
We have forgotten who we are.

Now the forests are dying
And the creatures are disappearing
And the humans are despairing.
We have forgotten who we are.

We ask forgiveness.
We ask for the gift of remembering,
We ask for the strength to change,
all for the love of our
Creator. Amen.


Take Note

Our conversation in session 1 explores how humanity relates to the rest of creation.

God's invitation to all is to care for creation, but sometime we have forgotten that invitation as we focus on ourselves, our families, and the people around us. This continued concern primarily on human beings has affected the world around us, contributing to the rapid increase of species extinction and the loss of habitats to support a thriving, bountiful natural system.

Our exploration in this session allows us to consider what a blessed creation God has made, to mourn that which has been lost, and to think about how we can care for all the creatures and land.


Engage

In watching the clip from The Lion King, Simba looks into the water and sees his own image. In the background we hear the voice of Mu-fasa, Simba's dad, saying, "Simba, you have forgotten who you are."

In Genesis we learned that we are created in the image of God. As Christians we believe that the image that reflects back to us when we look in the mirror is the image of God. It's a concept which can be both challenging and exhilarating at the same time.

Go to a mirror in your house and look at your image for 30–45 seconds.

What was that experience like? Is it hard or easy to imagine that you are created in the image of God?

Next, look around for the next human you encounter. It might be a sibling, friend, or parent.

Are they all created in the image of God?


GOOD TO KNOW!

C. S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, which was mentioned during the group session, created the book's main character — the lion Asian — as a symbol of God's loving presence. Lewis was a well-known Christian theologian who wrote some of the most influential and important books on Christian life and living in the twentieth century.


Reflect

In the group session, we mourned for and acknowledged the extinction of several species as a way to recognize these species both by name and as living creatures of God's creation.

When a person dies, newspapers and social media often publish an obituary, which includes a summary of a person's life. Go online and research the species for which you lit a candle in the Cycle of Life. Find out about that species' habitat, when they lived, why they died, and so forth.

In the space below, write an obituary for that species.


GOOD TO KNOW!

In the book of Genesis there are two versions of the creation story. While there is a range of theories as to why this is, it is generally accepted by biblical scholars that each version was originally conceived and written by two different authors. The first account focuses on the creation of the entire cosmos (Gen. 1:1–2:3) and the second account focuses on the creation of humankind in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:4–25).


Respond

Here, in each session of this Youth Booklet, we will extend a weekly challenge.

In the week ahead, keep track of the animals, birds, and bugs in your neighborhood. If possible, use your phone to take some pictures or write a list on paper of the living creatures in the world around you. Consider keeping a running tally of all the animals you have noticed.

Write here the types of creatures you have seen:


As you feel comfortable, when you encounter these creatures, offer a short, silent "Thank you God for this life."

How did it feel to offer a short word of gratitude to God for these creatures?


Closing Prayer

Dear God, we know that after the great flood, you promised never again to flood the earth, and you sent a rainbow as a sign to show that this covenant was between you and every living creature. Now we make a covenant with you, with all living creatures today, and with those yet to be. We agree to try to care for all God's creation. We confess that we put creatures at the risk of death and extinction. We ask for your trust and as a symbol of our intention, we mark our covenant with you by adding the pictures of these extinct animals to our Tree of Life. This will be a sign of the covenant between ourselves and every living thing that was and is found on earth. Amen.


GOOD TO KNOW!

We cannot separate ourselves as humans from the rest of the created order. The creation story (in Genesis) presents the interdependence of all God's creatures in their wonderful diversity and fragility, and in their need of protection from dangers of many kinds.

— HOUSE OF BISHOPS' PASTORAL TEACHING

CHAPTER 3

SESSION 3

A Time for Thirsting for Justice


Opening Prayer

Loving God, we thank you for the blessings of this life — our family and friends, our neighbors and those who teach us. We know that you invite us to care for all those who are in need. May we be mindful of those who are hungry or thirsty, those who do not have housing or a safe place to be. Give us courage and wisdom to make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering or in need. All this we ask in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Take Note

Many of the stories in the Bible have water as a central theme or focus. In part, this is because throughout time humans have recognized both their dependence on and the destructive force of water.

Water is a unifying blessing for all people and creatures. Without water, none of us will survive. As Christians we use water as a symbol of our entry into the life of the church, following on Jesus's baptism in the Jordan, where his divinity was fully revealed.

Together we explore our relationship with water to better understand our need to care for this resource and to help those who are without clean, sufficient water.


Engage

In the group session, we reviewed the prayers over the blessing of water during baptism and we discussed our Baptismal Covenant. The water of baptism reminds us of not only our human need for water but also our shared baptism into the life of Christ.

Ask your parent(s) and/or godparents to recall the day you were baptized. Talk with them about why they chose to baptize you. Ask them to show you pictures or other remembrances of your baptism.


GOOD TO KNOW!

According to the United Nations, an American uses on average 56,532 gallons of water per year. To get a sense of this, imagine over 50,000 gallons of milk containers in your house! By comparison, in Mali in West Africa, one of the hottest countries in the world, the average annual use is 1,056 per year.


In the space below, write things that you learned about your baptism. Was there anything that surprised you about your baptism?

If you are not baptized, talk with your parent(s) about their decision not to baptize you. Write in the space below your thoughts and ideas about not being baptized.


Reflect

In the video, we saw young women walking miles to carry water to their families. In many cases, this is their primary job, which prevents them from playing, socializing, going to school, and getting an education. Much of their focus in on getting and carrying water.

To raise your awareness about the burden of water-bearing, for one day carry water with you everywhere. Fill a 16-oz. bottle of water to carry every place you go.

Unless you have no other access to water, do not drink this water but rather just feel the weight of it.

In the spaces below, answer the following questions:

• Did you forget the water? If so, how many times?

• Were there times when the bottle felt heavy or burdensome? What were your thoughts when this happened?

• Did you share with anyone that you were carrying water for a day as an attempt to better understand water scarcity?


When your day is done, pour the water into the ground, returning it to the water cycle.


GOOD TO KNOW!

Eco-justice is described by the World Council of Churches as the link between the environment and social justice. Eco-justice is the concern that humanity's destruction of the earth and the abuse of economic and political power causes the poor to suffer disproportionately from the effects of environmental damage.


Respond

Here, in each session of this Youth Booklet, we will extend a weekly challenge.

Recognizing that water is both a sacred gift and for many an extremely limited resource, take time this week to be mindful of water in your daily life. Here are two options for this week's challenge:

Option 1: Limit your showers to no more than five minutes. When you brush your teeth, don't let the water continue to run.

Option 2: Express gratitude for water when you turn on the faucet by saying or silently praying these words: "Thank you, God, for the gift of water."

Depending on which option you choose (perhaps both?), answer the questions on the following pages.


GOOD TO KNOW!

The wealthier nations whose industries have exploited the environment seem to have forgotten that those who consume most of the world's resources also have contributed the most pollution to the world's rivers and oceans, have stripped the world's forests of healing trees, have destroyed both numerous species and their habitats, and have added the most poison to the earth's atmosphere.

— HOUSE OF BISHOPS' PASTORAL TEACHING


• Did five minutes seem like a long time or a short time for a shower? How long do you think your shower normally is?

• How often did you remember to turn off the water when brushing your teeth?

• When turning on faucets, how often did you remember to thank God for the gift of water? When you did remember, what difference did it make to you? For example, did it help you feel closer to God? Did it make you more grateful for the gift of water?

• Describe your experience of thanking God for water.


Closing Prayer

(from the Book of Common Prayer, p. 306)

We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water. Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation. Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus received the Baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life. We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. Amen.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from A Life of Grace for the Whole World Youth Booklet by Jerry Cappel, Stephanie M. Johnson. Copyright © 2017 Jerry Cappel and Stephanie M. Johnson. Excerpted by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Welcome! 1

Session 1 A Time for Harmony with God's Creation 3

Session 2 A Time for Care for the Whole Creation 11

Session 3 A Time for Thirsting for Justice 17

Session 4 A Time to Renew Ancient Practices 27

Session 5 A Time to Commit and Act 39

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