Between 2014-16, the dioceses in the southwest of the Church of England promoted a Lent Carbon Fast. These focus generally on personal and domestic actions to reduce our carbon footprint, the Fast in 2015 looked in particular at how Water is such a significant ecological issue, and in 2016 we looked at reconnecting with the Earth.
Feedback from 2016 suggested that we at EcoChurch Southwest should consider doing something in 2017 in the fairly new season of Creationtide, which runs from the 1st September until the 4th October. So we did, and again in 2018, providing reflections and ideas for action as the Church throughout the world considers issues of Care for Creation and the Environment.
If you want to do something during Lent then you might like to look at the resource offered by Green Anglicans; the Anglican Church of South Africa’s Environmental Network. The Diocese of Oxford has some further suggestions of Lent Materials for Reflection and Action.
The on-line Lent Carbon Fast 2016 emphasised “Reconnecting with God’s Earth”. There were daily emails including bible readings, reflections and stories of good examples of ideas from around the region. As Christians we have a personal relationship with God mediated through Jesus, but we can also have a direct relationship with God through the Earth. The world is the place of divine revelation. The Psalms tell us how the fields, trees and mountains also express God’s glory, and Jesus reminds us how the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields are equally a part of God’s plan. In other words, this is a reminder that God is our Creator as well as our Redeemer. So the Carbon Fast encouraged us to explore our relation with the elements, plants and animals, and in particular to use our senses more to recognise God in the very breath of life, in the garden, through streams and rivers, stars and flowers. It is in deepening our awareness of the web of life and our interconnectedness with all things, that we can deepen our love of God and appreciate and protect the planet for the future.
During Lent 2015, the particular focus for the Fast was on the link between our use of water, which needs to be pumped, cleaned and stored; our energy use and the things we consume. For example, it takes 11,000 litres to make a pair of jeans and 140 litres of water to make a single cup of coffee. For each day of Lent, everyone who signed up received a daily email with an action to consider (except Sundays), a bible reading and specially written reflection. The Carbon Fast 2015 also considered broader climate issues, in the run up to the Paris negotiations in December.
During Lent 2014, the Carbon Fast Challenge became a part of our Lenten spiritual devotion, and also helped us discover the financial benefits of stewarding resources. All the dioceses in the South West set a target to achieve a 40% reduction in gas, electricity and fuel. This was a real challenge. But we recognised that the 40 days starting on Ash Wednesday (5th March) would be 40 days during which you could make a real difference, 40 days when you could begin to collect lots of points in some very simple ways. Then at Easter, you could add up your points to see how close you are to 40.
Anyone can undertake The Carbon Fast Challenge at any time of the year. The 40 days need not be the 40 days of Lent. You see, carbon fasting doesn’t need to cost anything. Every step you take counts for something. You will be surprised at how much difference even the smallest steps will make. And then you can keep taking them, knowing that you are up for The Carbon Fast Challenge.
Carbon Fast resources
The recommended book in 2016 was ‘Places of Enchantment: Meeting God in Landscapes’ by Graham Usher, the Bishop of Dudley. He asks the question: “How do we encounter God in creation?”. You can find out more about the topics of the book in this video of a talk he gave at St Paul’s Cathedral.
David Atkinson has written an article on “Climate Change and the Gospel”, which is available on Operation Noah’s website.
If you’d like hard copies of any of the following pdf resources, please contact us. We also produced many worship resources – orders of service, prayers, readings, hymns and other worship suggestions – which you can find on the Prayer and worship resources page on this website.
- Lent Carbon Fast 2015 leaflet
- Lent Carbon Fast 2014 booklet
- Additional actions for those who have done most things in the booklet!
- Activities for schools
- Ideas for children
- Church magazine article
- Overseas stories
- Reviews of three books for Lent reading
- Video links
- Tearfund guide to meeting your MP
- Tearfund paper on addressing the challenge of not eating meat!
Lent Carbon Fast Prayer
Most loving Creator God who has given us
a world full of delights and wonders;
As we prepare with the grace of self-sacrifice
and self discipline for the great festival of Easter
remind us how to treasure these gifts and to use them with care;
So that all may equally share in the earth’s bounty
and all creation may be restored to your image
through Jesus Christ our Lord.