Anne Rowthorn

Environmentalist, Writer, Retreat and Workshop Leader


Feast of the Universe

Feast of the Universe is a comprehensive sourcebook of ecological prayers and liturgies drawn from Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist traditions. They range from ancient Asian cultures, Europe, the Americas, Oceana and the Pacific Islands. There are First Peoples’ prayers and litanies from Navajo, Lakota, Ojibway, Zuñi, Pawnee and Algonquin traditions. Included are litanies and responsive readings and creation liturgies for specific times, days and seasons of the year

“In a time when we are all becoming ever more aware of the enormous environmental challenge confronting our world, it is very easy to become lost in the science of dreadful statistics and predict ons. We can become numbed and lose our hope. This is exactly why Anne Rowthorn's beautiful book is so important: it gives us a chance to hear the spiritual voices of song and prayer than can renew us for the work ahead.”
—The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Assistant Bishop and Ethnic and Multicultural Missioner, Episcopal Diocese of California

An excerpt from the book:

Liturgy and the Future of Planet Earth

The environmental crisis offers the churches an unparalleled opportunity to respond, drawing upon the rich resources of our faith. As people of faith, one of our most effective ways of engaging in action is through our worship. By praying for Earth and all her landscapes, seascapes and waters, by calling to mind all her creatures of water, land and sky, by participating in liturgies focusing on Earth’s beauty and pain and our hopes for it, we are more likely to seek ways to heal, rather than to continue to harm, our planet.

Liturgy is primarily action rather than words. It is like lungs, breathing for the whole organism—the world. It is like the heart, pumping life-giving blood to the every cell of the body—God’s creation. It is like eyes, seeing and beholding the majesty and also the pain of the world. Liturgy is arms and hands reaching out to creation in love and gratitude. It is legs and feet walking the pathways of the world “in beauty.” Liturgy shapes community. Liturgy is the collective mind of the People of God, open to comprehending the needs of Earth and to going out and making restitution.

Through participating in creation-centered liturgies, we join together in our common hope for the world. Together we look to the horizon where the sky is clean and where we can, however dimly, see a land of milk and honey where all creatures live in harmony with all creation, moving ever closer to the vision of the writer of Isaiah and the time when “…the wolf shall live with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid…., [when] the young child shall put its hand on the adder’s den…[and] they will neither hurt nor destroy on all my holy mountain.”

Of particular interest to pastors, church music directors and worship leaders are the book’s three appendices designed to aid their liturgical planning. “Celebrating God’s Creation Throughout the Year,” is a calendar noting thirty-eight occasions in every season that are auspicious times to organize earth festivals, community events and liturgies. “Environmental Hymns,” is a list of sixty-four environmental hymns—many of them new— along with their references in ten standard hymnals commonly in use in the U.S.A., Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. “Ecological Themes in the Bible,” is a starter list of Biblical ecological readings appropriate for use with a variety of liturgies.

I would like to call special attention to the nine liturgies developed for The Season of Creation. Eight of them were crafted in Australia and one in New Zealand. Their inclusion is a response to the growing movement, in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the USA, the United Kingdom and in the European Community, to do more in addressing the ecological crisis than celebrating Earth Day, Arbor Day and Rogation Days, important as these occasions remain. The Season of Creation, begins on September first, the Day of Creation in the Orthodox calendar, and runs for six Sundays. It covers the time of traditional harvest festivals and the Blessing of Animals on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, October fourth. The Season of Creation liturgies offered in this book have been slightly adapted for use in American churches and they can be either Eucharistic or non-Eucharistic, depending upon local church custom. There are nine liturgies for the season of six Sundays, so planners of worship can choose from among them the liturgies that most appeal to them. They can be used in any order and some of the other creation liturgies in the book are also appropriate for use during The Season of Creation.