The Season of Creation
As the summer season unfolds in all of its grandeur (not to mention the buzz of its mosquitoes), I want to encourage and challenge all Episcopalians in Alaska to make an intentional effort to “walk the land,” to listen to what the Spirit is saying in creation, and tune your hearts and prayers to the health of our stewardship and care of this island home God has given into our hands.
For thousands of years people been engaged in the harvest of the abundance of Alaska’s rivers and land during this season. However, once again this year, subsistence fishing of King Salmon has been closed on the Yukon River. While politicians and interest groups continue to debate the cause, we know from traditional indigenous observers that the size, weight, fat content, and overall health of salmon in the rivers has been declining for the last several years. The decline and loss of the King salmon also means the decline and loss of traditional cultures and traditions, just as the loss of sea ice threatens the loss of traditional Artic coast culture and ways of life.
The King Salmon may be one of the most drastic examples, but changes to the overall health of several species in Alaska are likewise being observed. The land and sea is changing. River banks are eroding away, permafrost is melting, glaciers are melting, the sea ice continues to disappear on the Arctic coast, and an alarming number of spruce tree stands have died due to an invasive species of spruce beetle (on my drive back to Fairbanks from Seward last week, I was deeply saddened and alarmed to see huge lots of spruce trees that were standing dead or dying. The scene, especially around Cantwell, leaves me worried for fire).
The whole creation groans.
We are called to be good stewards of this earth. In the face of these alarming signs and symptoms of change and loss, it can be overwhelming to know what we can do. It can also be easy in the face of these challenges to resolve that nothing can be done, or to seek some single cause or villain. However, there is no easy solution, no single cause.
One thing we can do is pray and to commit ourselves to seeking a deeper understanding of climate change, climate justice, and our responsibilities as stewards of God’s gifts.
The Episcopal Church’s Ministry of Creation Care has produced resources for the Season of Creation. The theme this year is “Let Justice and Peace Flow.” There are an abundance of resources at this link: https://seasonofcreation.org/ for all congregations to use for prayer, worship, advocacy. Please look visit the site and look around.
Additionally, I am asking all of our communities to consider committing some part of September and October to Creation Care. Look through the resources to see what would work in your community. Action could take the from of special prayers on Sundays, special liturgies, participation in advocacy groups or commitments to support the work of climate justice, or study groups to learn more about environmental policies and plans.
Pray for this good earth our island.