Creation Challenges

Throughout the month, households are invited to pick 1 or 2 challenges to deepen their engagement with Creation. You can do as few or as many as you like based on what inspires and intrigues you.

A Calendar of Prayer for Creation

You were given a calendar with a different native species or environmental organization to pray for each day of the month. I like to tape this above my home altar where it is visible and helps remind me to pray. If you’d like to turn it into more of an activity, you might look up one or more of the species and see if you can spot one on your nature walks!

Sourdough Bread Challenge

Sourdough is my all time favorite bread. I used to feel intimidated by it but then I found a really simple King Arthur Flour recipe for tangy sourdough starter. It’s just equal parts water and flour. You “feed” the starter every day at first and then every 2-3 weeks. This recipe recommends once a day if stored on the counter or once a week if stored in the fridge. Click on the image for a really great guide to Sourdough Starter and some tasty recipes for Sourdough bread. If you start early in the month on this challenge, you should have a really nice starter and several loaves of sourdough bread to practice making (and feeding to the birds if its not quite right). Bread is a really important part of our Christian Faith. If you’d like to take on this challenge, you might also enjoy coming to St. Matthew’s and St. Titus’ joint Agape Meal on Sunday, October 11th at 6pm. Email welcome@stmatthewshillsborough.org to register and receive a loaf of (non-sourdough) bread to share together.

Household Sabbath Covenant

As a household, discuss what it might look like to observe the sabbath and what practices you could take on or what habits you could give up to practice Sabbath together for a whole day. Think about things that might really challenge your household–things you can give up, things you can take away or say no to. If you’ve already created something like this as a household, use this month to reflect on how it is working for and with your family. How is it challenging you? How has it grown you? What have you learned about God through putting it into practice? If it was once a practice and has fallen by the wayside, use this month to start fresh.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Pray together or read Scripture (you can use the Canticle and Scriptures above as responsive prayers)
  2. Turn off all electronics (cell phones, television, video games)
  3. Avoid shopping, online browsing, or making purchases, especially unnecessary ones
  4. Prepare items for your meal/meals on Saturday evening so that you can heat or cook in the oven or assemble quickly. 
  5. Fast from meat, dairy, sugar or something else you eat in abundance
  6. Pray especially for those who labor as we rest
  7. Avoid patronizing locations where service workers labor
  8. Take a nap

In your Sabbath covenant articulate positively what your family will do with your time–will you allow yourselves to be bored together, engage some time together in prayer and with a read aloud, engage your time outside?

Nature Walk / Nature Journal

Throughout the month, we invite households to go on Nature Walks. Being outside is one of the easiest and best ways we can encounter God and experience the wonder and beauty of Creation. We’ve included a blank nature journal in your box that you can use to write, draw, or color about what you experience in nature. We also encourage children and youth to collect interesting things they find in nature for their Home Altar or Nature Tray. See below for more details about this monthly challenge:

Nature Walk: Get outside every day (if possible) for 30-45 minutes. Look together for things to notice–the beautiful texture of moss after rain, a small hole in the ground (where might that go? What creature might live in or pass through it?), the sticky feel of the air, the tickle of a brush of grass or the mosquitos, a broken egg shell or a snake skin, an animal skull, a gall, a dead bee, a living beetle, a cicada shell. A backyard or neighborhood creek is a perfectly appropriate place. It doesn’t need to be “special” to have all kinds of interesting things. For children, we’ve included a dry erase scavenger hunt that can go with you on your walks. Check out the short video below if you need tips on the practice of nature walks.

Nature Journaling: Once you are in the practice, there are many things to see and wonder about. Every day look for something outside from the story of creation (anything remind you of light and dark? creeping and crawling things? water? air and sea creatures?). You can bring an egg carton or a small box or bag to collect things. Older children can write descriptions, younger children may need help writing a word about something they found or how they feel. You may want to bring a set of colored pencils or crayons to sketch something they see. You may want to return to the same spot every day; establishing a sit spot, can be a wonderful way to learn how to pay attention. One way to approach nature journaling is to write descriptions, feelings, or questions on one side of a page and draw things you find or press leaves, flowers, etc. on the right.

-A Nature Tray – Collecting and Offering: Some of the things you see on your walks can be gathered and collected in egg cartons, or a small basket or bag. These can be placed in jars or on small trays or in baskets for observation and drawing later. You might also like to put this tray near your home altar, not only because it encourages curiosity about and interaction with creation, but because the items you find can become a sort of offering. Please do not remove or gather nests unless they are clearly empty and abandoned (on the ground) as it is illegal to disturb them.

See below for a quick intro to nature journaling video created by Angela Compton Nelson, Minister for Christian Education at Church of the Holy Family.

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