The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatens life, property, commerce, and occupations along the Gulf Coast. It is a tragedy of phenomenal proportions and it will be years or perhaps even lifetimes before the damage is behind us.
There is plenty of blame to go around and there are plenty of people to do the blaming. Many of us, our families and friends, are directly affected by the spill. My own wife teaches the children of people who are employed by BP. Some of us are in strategic positions of leadership to influence decisions about the cleanup of this spill and the future of offshore drilling.
Whatever our opportunity to make a difference may be, Christians everywhere are concerned for the protection of living creatures and ecosystems that are affected by this disaster. As stewards of creation, all of us are called to pray about this situation. We are in need of divine guidance so that our actions will match our prayers. During the last couple of weeks, I have been led to several prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. I share them with you in hopes they will help you as they have helped me.
For fruitful seasons
Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth: We humbly pray
that your gracious providence may give and preserve to our
use the harvests of the land and of the seas, and may prosper
all who labor to gather them, that we, who are constantly
receiving good things from your hand, may always give you
thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
For stewardship of creation
O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the
needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for
your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the
account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards
of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with
you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.
For Knowledge of God’s Creation
Almighty and everlasting God, you made the universe with
all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, and galaxies, and
the infinite complexity of living creatures: Grant that, as we
probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know
you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your
eternal purpose; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Conservation of Natural Resources
Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth,
you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom
and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one
may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet
to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Harvest of Lands and Waters
O gracious Father, who openest thine hand and fillest all
things living with plenteousness: Bless the lands and waters,
and multiply the harvests of the world; let thy Spirit go
forth, that it may renew the face of the earth; show thy
loving kindness, that our land may give her increase; and
save us from selfish use of what thou givest, that men and
women everywhere may give thee thanks; through Christ
our Lord. Amen.
For the Future of the Human Race
O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us
dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before
the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes
for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in
making provision for its future in accordance with your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And, finally, there is a very special prayer composed by my colleague and dear friend, The Rev. Lillian W. Hyde, Rector of St. George's Episcopal Church in Texas City, Texas. Several of her parishioners and many of their neighbors work at the nearby BP Refinery.
Eternal God, we pray for the protection and preservation
of the Gulf of Mexico and the lands and waters it touches.
Guide those who labor to contain the oil; strengthen those
who work to protect land and creatures; have mercy on those
whose livelihoods will suffer; forgive us for our carelessness,
and give us wisdom to be good stewards of creation, so that
generations yet to come may praise you for your bounty. Amen
For the sake of creation, as we pray, let us so live!
P.S. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church was an oceanographer before she was ordained. Here is an important message from her regarding the oil spill and our connectedness.