Year C (Also, see Spring – in Australia)
COCU59C, Pentecost 20C, 2nd October 2016
COCU60C, Pentecost 21C, 9th October 2016
COCU61C, Pentecost 22C, 16th October 2016
COCU62C, Pentecost 23C, 23rd October 2016
COCU63C, All Saints Day, 30th October 2016
Our faithfulness this week calls us into other places and picking up on the Lamentations readings we will spend some time in prayer for Aleppo, listening to parts of the news reports interspersed with the lament from the text and praying for peace.
Call to Worship:
Gathering God, joined as one family
we come to worship you today,
mindful of the breathing
of the life that you have called into being
across countries and climates;
all creatures and all creeds.
Jesus, teacher friend,
today you call us to your table
and invite us to feed on you,
so that we might then feed others.
Let our hunger for justice
and our desire for peace
never be exhausted
until all your children are safe and fed.
let the words that reach our open ears
and your movement in our souls
in this time together
bless, comfort and disturb us.
So that the work of your servants here
may be directed along the right paths
for the sake of the world,
And all the people say: Amen.
God who was and is and is to come,
It must seem so silly for us to whine and moan about time.
We have such a short span here in this life,
and yet we make such a fuss over when this is to happen,
how long that takes,
how early we must rise,
how late we’ve stayed up…
How long, O Lord, will I make you wait?
Wait for thankfulness: recognition that you have done and are doing so much for me every minute of every day
Wait for praise: giving the honor and glory that is truly due to you and you alone.
Wait for an open heart: the sort that causes the mouth to close, the mind to rest and the ears to tingle as we listen.
No more… at least not for today!
Thank you! For the strength you provide when I am too tired or bleary to go on.
I praise you! For the wonder of your creation, for the mystery of your love for me and for the world.
I wait… for the Spirit to breathe new life in me tonight; for the love of Christ to fill me anew; for the grace of God to be so real in me that others are drawn not to my ministry but to your presence. I wait for instructions. I wait for You.
You save me in the daylight and in the dark. You save me in the moments I am most vulnerable to the attacks of the liar. You save me from my short-sighted understanding of today, tomorrow and the future. You save me from placing myself in the center of it all, breaking my heart again and again for those who don’t yet know a saviour. Amen
(Source: Rev Laura Viau)
Peace in our time – music and words by Melvyn Cann (Australian composer and musician), sung by Rachel and uploaded to Youtube with images. Could be used as prayers of intercession meditation.
A Prayer for Peace Gracious Lord, we dream of a world free of poverty and oppression, and we yearn for a world free of vengeance and violence. We pray for your peace.
When our hearts ache for the victims of war and oppression, help us to remember that you healed people simply by touching them. Give us faith in our ability to comfort and heal bodies and minds and spirits that have been broken by violence. When the injustice of this world seems too much for us to handle, help us to remember that you fed five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Give us hope that what we have to offer will turn out to be enough, too. When fear of the power and opinions of others tempts us not to speak up for the least among us, help us to remember that you dared to turn over the tables of money changers. Give us the courage to risk following you without counting the cost. When we feel ourselves fill with anger at those who are violent and oppressive, help us remember that you prayed for those who killed you. Give us compassion for all peoples. When we tell ourselves that we have given all we can to bring peace to this world, help us to remember your sacrifice. Give us the miracle of losing a little more of ourselves in serving you and our neighbours. Walk with us, Lord, as we answer your call to be peacemakers. Increase our compassion, our generosity and our hospitality for the least of your children. Give us the courage, the patience, the serenity, the self-honesty and the gentleness of spirit that are needed in a world filled with turmoil and terror. You show us the way and we follow. Transform the compassion of our heartsinto acts of peace, mercy, and justice. Amen.
~ adapted from a prayer by Jack Knox, pastor of Salem (Oregon) Mennonite Church. Posted on Glocal Christianity: the blog of Matt Stone. http://mattstone.blogs.com/
Give us a vision of peace, Lord, we pray (Tune: Slane)
Give us a vision of peace, Lord, we pray,
peace for tomorrow and peace for today,
peace for this planet whose future we hold,
peace for the children and peace for the old.
Give us a vision of peace that will be
firm as a mountain and wide as the sea,
peace in our prayers, in our praise and our pain,
peace for the children who cry out in vain.
Give us a vision of peace, Lord of all,
peace for the great one and peace for the small,
peace in our labor and peace in our sleep,
peace for the children, a promise to keep.
Give us a vision of peace for our age,
peace for the healing of hatred and rage,
peace for our living together as one,
peace for the children when our life is done.
World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel 18 to 24 September 2016
As participants in the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, churches around the world shall send a clear signal to policy-makers, community groups, and their own parishes about the urgent need for a peace settlement that ends the illegal occupation and secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples. Already, planning has begun for the World Week for Peace 2016, during which participants will organize and join in events and activities around the following three principles:
1. Praying with churches living under occupation, using a special prayer from Jerusalem and other worship resources prepared for the week.
2. Educating about actions that make for peace, and about facts on the ground that do not create peace, especially issues related to the wall.
3. Advocating with political leaders using ecumenical policies that promote peace with justice.
Letter from Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit on the occasion of the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, 2016
Geneva, 16 September 2016 “He . . . has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” Ephesians 2.14
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
I write to you on the occasion of the upcoming World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI). This has been an annual event for several years. Beginning on 18 September, churches throughout the world will join in prayer for the sake of peace based on justice for the peoples of Israel and Palestine. We need to continue our work together and our prayers together for a just peace. Israel and Palestine should be two states living in peace with justice as neighbors. We know this is not the reality. The region is still marked by lack of peace, by occupation, violence in many forms, violations of human rights and lack of trust and confidence between the two peoples and the three religions.
The theme for this year’s WWPPI is “Dismantling Barriers.” In the Israeli-Palestinian context, references to barriers bring up images of the separation barrier dividing Israelis from Palestinians and many Palestinians from their families, farms, and communities. This barrier continues to be blight on the landscape. It is a tragic monument of failures to establish a just peace. It was built as a means to bring security for the population on one side, but not for the people on the other side, rather to the contrary. It is a monument of a policy of occupation that seems to be leading to annexation of land, by including illegal settlements on occupied land into Israel. It brings direct harm to many Palestinians. It is built on occupied territories, not on internationally recognized borders, and therefore defined as illegal where it is now.
But it is not the only barrier standing in the way of peace. In this week of prayer, we will focus on many barriers that stand in the way of flourishing for all in Israel and Palestine: barriers of mistrust and hostility, barriers of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, barriers of self-centeredness and entitlement.
Many member churches of the WCC have made peace with justice in Israel and Palestine a matter of our highest concern and of our prayers. The global church effort to promote awareness and advocacy informed by the perspectives of Christians in Palestine and Israel is growing. Many have visited our brothers and sisters there and saw and heard themselves what the reality is. The voice of the churches is being received in many national and international arenas.
As a global fellowship of churches, we know of the many problems plaguing our world. The Israeli-Palestinian context is not the only place where injustice and fear reign. Even in the Middle East, Israel and Palestine do not constitute the only acute sites of human suffering. It is, however, one of the few places in the world where injustice is directly supported or at least accepted by a broad coalition of worldly power. For their own interests and reasons, today’s most powerful countries choose to allow this situation to continue and intensify.
What then shall we do? Now is the time for Christians around the world to stand with all who are seeking peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. Our witness cannot be compromised or muted. The vulnerable communities of the Middle East—and Christians are unfortunately counted among these—must not be left alone.
It is time for our global fellowship of churches to challenge all of the barriers that perpetuate injustice in Israel and Palestine. The WWPPI provides us with an opportunity to focus our efforts in order to amplify our voices for justice and peace, in global solidarity with all who are suffering from these barriers and the unsolved conflict they bear witness to.
I therefore invite you to participate in the WWPPI. You have to find your own ways to participate in this significant week of witness and peacebuilding. The material and proposed activities are for your use or to be amended in a way that is suitable for you and your church. I hope that you will be strengthened in your solidarity and commitment to justice and peace in Palestine and Israel.
In order to prepare for your participation in this global collective prayer, I commend to you this segment of the proposed WWPPI liturgy:
O God of mercy,
Free humanity from our sinful ways.
Where walls have been built up
Teach us to build bridges of understanding.
When hearts are hardened
Open them to the sufferings of the neighbor.
When we are oppressed
Preserve our dignity and give us courage to resist.
When we are the oppressor
Change our hearts and reform our ways.
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC General Secretary
2015 Theme:“God has broken down the dividing walls”. Worship, prayer, resources here.
The hashtag during the week was: “#WallWillFall”. #PrayForPeace
The focus was ‘pray, educate, advocate’.
“It is our sincere desire and prayer, shared with many Jews and Muslims, that there should be no hostilities among neighbours in Israel and Palestine, and beyond, in the whole Middle East region.” These were the words of the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, shared in his message for the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI). Read the WCC press release 18 September 2015.
The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations around the world to join together in 2015 for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. Congregations and individuals around the globe who share the hope of justice shall unite during the week to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness.
As participants in World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, from 20 to 26 September 2015, churches around the world shall send a clear signal to policy-makers, community groups, and their own churches about the urgent need for a peace settlement that ends the illegal occupation and secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples.
Participants will organize and join in events and activities around the following three principles:
1. Praying with churches living under occupation, using a special prayer from Jerusalem and other worship resources prepared for the week.
2. Educating about actions that make for peace, and about facts on the ground that do not create peace, especially issues related to prisoners.
3. Advocating with political leaders using ecumenical policies that promote peace with justice.
Why? This annual observance of a week of prayer, education, and advocacy calls participants to work for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, so that Palestinians and Israelis can finally live in peace. It has been 66 years since the creation of the State of Israel. This has not led to the creation of an independent Palestinian state but has only deepened the tragedy of the Palestinian people. It is now 47 years since the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza overwhelmed the peaceful vision of one land, two peoples.
Yet the dream of one nation cannot be fulfilled at the expense of another. The action week’s message is that now:
It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.
It’s time to respect human lives in the land called holy.
It’s time for healing to begin in wounded souls.
It’s time to end more than 60 years of conflict, oppression and fear.
It’s time for freedom from occupation.
It’s time for equal rights.
It’s time to stop discrimination, segregation and restrictions on movement.
It’s time for those who put up walls and fences to build them on their own property.
It’s time to stop bulldozing one community’s homes and building homes for the other community on land that is not theirs.
It’s time to do away with double standards.
It’s time for Israeli citizens to have security and secure borders agreed with their neighbours.
It’s time for the international community to implement more than 60 years of United Nations resolutions.
It’s time for Israel’s government to complete the bargain offered in the Arab Peace Initiative.
It’s time for those who represent the Palestinian people to all be involved in making peace.
It’s time for people who have been refugees for more than 60 years to regain their rights and a permanent home.
It’s time to assist settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to make their home in Israel.
It’s time for self-determination.
It’s time for foreigners to visit Bethlehem and other towns imprisoned by the wall.
It’s time to see settlements in their comfort and refugee camps in their despair.
It’s time for people living more than 40 years under occupation to feel new solidarity from a watching world.
It’s time to name the shame of collective punishment and to end it in all its forms.
It’s time to be revolted by violence against civilians and for civilians on both sides to be safe.
It’s time for both sides to release their prisoners and give those justly accused a fair trial.
It’s time to reunite the people of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
It’s time for all parties to obey international humanitarian and human rights law.
It’s time to share Jerusalem as the capital of two nations and a city holy to three religions.
It’s time for Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities to be free to visit their holy sites.
It’s time in Palestine as in Israel for olive trees to flourish and grow old.
It’s time to honour all who have suffered, Palestinians and Israelis.
It’s time to learn from past wrongs.
It’s time to understand pent-up anger and begin to set things right.
It’s time for those with blood on their hands to acknowledge what they have done.
It’s time to seek forgiveness between communities and to repair a broken land together.
It’s time to move forward as human beings who are all made in the image of God.
All who are able to speak truth to power must speak it.
All who would break the silence surrounding injustice must break it.
All who have something to give for peace must give it.
For Palestine, for Israel and for a troubled world,
It’s time for peace.
Here’s a link to the 2014 Social Justice Sunday resources.
“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” Richard Rohr
The goal of compassion – Richard Rohr
To reach the goal of compassion we must not stop with “the first gaze.” It is “the second gaze” that we struggle and wait for most of our lives. In the first half of life, we have a critical mind and a demanding heart and a lot of impatience. These characteristics are both gifts and curses, as you might expect. We cannot risk losing touch with either our angels or our demons. They are both good teachers. The trials of life invariably lead us to a second gaze. This is the gaze of compassion and patience. Now we look out at life from a place of Divine Intimacy where we are finally safe and at home. Only the second gaze sees fully and truthfully. It is the gaze of God at you, which you have finally received like a long-awaited radio signal, and once you receive it, it just automatically bounces back to the Sender.
Adapted from Contemplation in Action, pp. 19-20
Prayer: Teach me to hold the paradox of being contemplative in my actions.
(Reflecting on Luke 16:1-13)
What are we to do with your teaching?
What can you mean with stories like the parable of the dishonest manager?
Why is dishonesty seemed to be praised?
Why does it seem to make it praiseworthy to induce others to be culpable in cheating?
How do you seem to be calling is to self-interest at the cost of others?
We obviously can not take it literally.
We comprehend the exhortation to reject greed for wealth, even if we too often fall to live it and love it.
Your Kingdom and communion is amongst and within us.
The world can and should be different and better.
Wealth should have no meaning for us other than to be a tool for righting injustice and a power to dismantle the systems which result in people being poor.
But let us not dodge the reality that we don’t fully comprehend your way.
Let us continue to struggle to work at what you mean for us,
Not settling for easy answers or convenient and comforting interpretation.
Let us not be surprised that your teaching is shocking and jarring, unsettling us from our status quo.
Keep making it hard for us Christ
That we might grow in faith
And be found in your way of the cross
As true disciples of difference
Being agents of your compassion and communion.
So, may it be.
(Source: Jon Humphries)
“The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.”
~ Julian of Norwich
Walk among trees who do not judge you,
who travel seasons in perfect meekness.
Leave the drumbeat of blocks and apartments,
hours and trains, lines and squares,
and return to the rhythm of living things.
Observe beings who live the life they are given.
Go at a pace you won’t trip over roots
while looking up.
Listen to the conversation the sun has with the grasses,
watch its slow labor among the trees.
Let your life become as purposeful as any wild thing.
Stay long enough to shed the illusion
that you are superior, that you are separate,
that this is not also your flesh.
Let your breath, prairie wind, sea breeze,
—amazing gift, moment after moment!—
carry you through the day.
Your own organs, your hands, your eyes,
let them infest this day of work.
Earthling, be of this earth.
Let it have you.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
A collation of resourceshere on the original Season of Creation website.
Lord God, we know you are our creator.
You created us in your own image.
You gave us responsibility of dominion over the earth and all in it.
We repent that we have not been good stewards of your creation.
We have caused global warming through burning fossil fuels,
we have cut down a lot of trees without replacing them,
we have advanced in technology and increased in population,
hence manufacturing machines that pollute your nature,
we have constantly benefitted from the natural resources and in return giving nothing back.
Lord, grant us your wisdom, so that we may turn back and preserve our environment.
Help us to always stick to the proper use of the natural resources
so that we do not continually harm climate.
We ask all of these in Jesus name,
Amen. (Source” Rev Emmanuel Ngambeki, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Karagwe Diocese, Tanzania)
Prayer from Indonesia
We ruin life by starting the fire in our woods
We replace the fresh air with smoke
We poison our clean water and bath our children with waste We killed our grandchildren by inheriting them poison and pest God, have mercy on us
O God, we are ignoring the natural disaster, but nature is you.
We are speechless, afraid of the laws abusing the nature. And we are scared of YOU.
And even a church as your body, often keeps quiet looking for a safe place.
O God we are waiting for the new the heaven and earth where the truth and justice belong to all your creation
O God, have a mercy of Lord
(Source: Karo Batak Protestant Church (GBKP), Worship, Medan, Indonesia, 2012)
William Wallace (New Zealand) has prepared a ‘Mass of the Universe‘ with all the text and music – could be worth considering for the opening Sunday or closing Sunday of the month set aside for Seasons of Creation. Ideally it will need some advance notice for preparation of the music with cantors, small choir etc. Definitely worth checking out.
The earth is at the same time mother,
she is mother of all that is natural,
mother of all that is human,
She is the mother of all,
for contained in her
aret he seeds of all. The earth of humankind
contains all moistness,
all germinating power.
It is in so many ways fruitful.
All creation comes from it.
Yet it forms not only the basic
raw material for humankind,
but also the substance
of the incarnation
of God’s son.
Hildegard of Bingen, c. 1125
Textweek.com has online resources for each Sunday in Season of Creation.
A great video clip (4.58 mins) – She’s Alive, beautiful, finite, dying, worth dying for – could be shown during a service. The blurb: “It was made to highlight the fact that world leaders, irresponsible corporates and mindless ‘consumers’ are combining to destroy life on earth. It is dedicated to all who died fighting for the planet and those whose lives are on the line today. The cut was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker, together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (http://www.sanctuaryasia.com/). The principal source for the footage was Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s incredible film HOME http://www.homethemovie.org/. The music was by Armand Amar. Credit and thanks to Greenpeace and http://timescapes.org/”
Lord of life,
Things are not as they should be.
Our world is not as you intended.
We have overreached our place in the world.
We have upset the balance of nature.
We do not live in harmony with the environment.
We have exploited our planet.
Our devouring of resources is unnatural.
Our excesses are overbearing
Our destruction of the wild places is abhorrent
Our ignorance of the damage resulting from our lifestyle is inexcusable
We should be sorry.
We know the facts.
We have seen the effects.
But little do we change.
Do not forgive our token gestures.
Hold us accountable until we repent.
Disabuse us of our perverted selfish ways.
Grant us the shocking vision of the truth.
But also call us to your purpose.
Awaken in us the seeds of change.
Help us take up our responsibility.
Show us how to make amends.
Join us to your mission,
That our world may be renewed.
That we may be redeemed.
That the Creating Christ may be served.
In his name.
Amen. (c) Jon Humphries
“We’re standing here on holy ground” (Tune: ‘Ellacombe(2)’, 86 86D, 453 TiS) We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land your hand has made;
Your art displayed in timeless rocks,
in purple haze and space;
Its mighty gums and feathery ferns
your beauty magnify.
Tread softly then, in awe reflect,
and listen to the land.
We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land which ancients trod.
They wrote your law in hills and streams
in rocks and caves and trees;
A law to tell us who we are,
to guide and make us strong.
Tread gently then, respect the earth,
remember whence we’ve come.
We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land that toil has shaped.
It’s fertile plains will feed us all,
when tilled with care and love.
But mindless greed and drought and flood
wreak havoc in the land.
Then let us tread with love the earth,
that’s fed us faithfully.
We’re standing here on holy ground,
on land we long to share,
Where each has space and equity,
and neither want nor fear
But demons fierce are dancing here
of race and greed and hate.
Engrave upon our wills, we pray,
your ancient covenant law.
Opening prayer (includes acknowledgement of land)
We give thanks for creation: its vibrant genesis and evolution
its wonder and mystery its delicacy and strength
its wordless word it’s yes! We give thanks for the Kaurna people who nurtured this land: for their stories of the dreaming
for their connection with the sacred for their yes!
We give thanks for the gift of this community: for calling us to be present to one another
for the mystery of grace in our lives for your yes! Continue reading →
The sculpture consists of an iron beam pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center held up by two stainless steel hands. The hands holding it up are constructed from 2,976 individually crafted stainless steel doves – each representing a victim of the attacks.
Fifteen years after 9/11
what is worth remembering?
How fragile we are.
How deeply we need each other.
How little our differences matter.
That in our vulnerability
we are most human.
That we can always respond to violence
with violence or with peace.
That violence begets violence.
That in danger, chaos and trauma
we can choose to come together.
That you always have a choice
to contribute to the world’s hurt
or its healing.
That we are one.
That entering into the world’s suffering
That the world is not ending yet.
How beautiful it is
when we care for each other. Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light
In 2012, Pilgrim UC held a ‘spiritual exploration of lament’ on September 11th, for the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. The online planning can be found here, and will take the form of stations around the church. Here’s a link to Geoff Boyce’s website which gives more details of the service of lament.
Blessing/benediction incorporating Jewish blessing of the mourners and Sufi blessing of peace and love. blessing – Sept 11 service
Engage Worship website with prayer resources for Sept 11, and more here at Godspace.
Here’s a thoughtful reflection on the gospel reading linked to 9-11, http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20050905JJ.shtml
Here’s some more resources from United Church of Christ (USA).
Thom Shuman wrote an excellent reflection piece on September 11th. ‘We can remember and honour 9/11. I hope we are defined by September 12th’. I’ve adapted it for my own context in Australia, but hopefully remaining faithful to the intent of what Thom has written. Thom Shuman reflection
A note re children – the TV images will be relentless in the week leading up to 9/11. Young children do not know it’s the same image over and over again, and may well think it’s happening here and now. The violence and destruction carried in the visual images is disturbing to children so extreme care should be taken in what children view on news and current affairs programs leading up to September 11th anniversary.
Interfaith matters – with rising hostilities reported around the world, the terrorist attacks in many countries including France, Germany, and Indonesia, the controversy over the ‘burkina’, the denigration of Muslim people, etc, it’s timely for the church to exercise leadership in promoting peace and understanding, and standing in solidarity with other faith traditions. How might we be ‘practitioners for peace’? There are so many heartwarming and inspiring stories of faith traditions working together – maybe some of those may be woven into worship?
Call to worship
The foolish say, ‘there is no God.’ We come, trusting in Jesus, the face, the voice, the presence of the God who loves us.
The scoffers of our age ask, ‘why do you seek after God?’ We come, in this time, because God’s grace has spilled over in our lives.
The hopeless around us think, ‘no one cares about me.’ We come, in this time, to this place, because Jesus has found us and brought us home.
(Source: Thom Shuman)
Prayer of Confession (inspired by Luke 15: 1-10)
God of wisdom,
we confess the foolishness of our ways,
and our failure to follow you in your paths of right relationships –
with you and with others.
We have gone astray; we feel lost.
We have upheld our own interests first, to the detriment of others.
We have failed to be generous with the poor,
and abandoned our efforts to bring about justice.
We feel the stains of our sins, God;
have mercy on us according to your steadfast love.
Wash the sinfulness out of us,
and help us to live more faithfully as your servants.
We seek your unfailing Lordship
and ask for your guiding hand on our lives.
You are the immortal, invisible One;
to you be honour and glory forever; amen.
Assurance of Pardon Merciful and loving God,
we thank you for never losing hope for us.
When we are lost, you are there on the look-out for us,
bringing us back to you like the good shepherd that you are.
Your Word tells us of the joy in heaven that awaits us.
May this joy flow into our lives each day,
and be faithfully reflected into the world around us.
Thanks be to God, our Great Shepherd.
(Source: Presbyterian Church in Canada website)
The Lost (a poem inspired by Luke 15: 1-10)
Praise God for the Lord who loves
Praise God for the Lord who cares
In the midst of my weakness
When I am lost
Unable to find
There is One who seeks
One who finds
And rejoices in the correction of our folly
Rejoices with the angels
Rejoices with song
Rejoices for us
And with us
Often before we are aware
We were lost
“Isn’t it strange how things happen?”
“It was just one of those days”
“I’ve decided to make a change”
These are the words we use
Rejoice and be glad,
For that which was lost has been found
(Source: Pastor Dan, http://coslcgrace.blogspot.ca/)
Sermon ideas (from Church of Scotland) – see more below Theme: Repent of our misuse of creation. We are the inheritors of the earth, those who have responsibility to be proper stewards.
Luke tells us that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety- nine who do not need it. In the world today, there are few without sin, and even fewer who have not done something which causes harm to the world in which we live, God’s created order.
“The firstborn child has a special status. The earth is the firstborn of creation, created before the human beings, so we should respect the earth and hold it in a special status.” Rev Maurice Munthali, Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Livingstonia Synod.
Among the most pressing concerns for the world church is that of the whole created order, ensuring its sustainable future, and the responsibility of the human race to deal sensitively and gently with it. So many places in the world are seeing desertification from the degradation of the plant and forest life, or inundated with water as sea levels rise, or taken from them by land-grabbers – all of which impoverish the lives of individuals and communities. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says. Christians need to regain a sense that our relationship to the earth is about ‘communion not consumption’. The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
Jeremiah 4, and other prophets emphasises that creation is important to God. It highlights how the whole creation suffers when God’s people repeatedly fail to follow God’s ways: it is “waste and void,” the mountains are quaking, “the birds of the air had fled,” “the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins.” The creation groans. But as Jesus emphasises in Luke, we can repent, we can change our ways, we can find restoration. Jeremiah suggests that the people are clueless, but today we are not clueless, we do know the things that make for a good environment and a healthy planet.
We are all interconnected and interdependent. If the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, we need to recognise our responsibility for others. Changes to the climate as well as non-climate related natural disasters are not just challenges to particular places, they also impact the lives of people. There is an element of enlightened self-interest in tackling the issues of climate change caused by global warming, or pollution and waste caused by over-consumption; but the Church around the world must go further than speak out about climate change and pollution — we must challenge attitudes (including our own) by practising, promoting and encouraging a renewed reverence and respect for the whole of creation and, in particular, the way we relate to our planet. Whether we think of the planet in a South American (or Franciscan) way as ‘Mother Earth’ or with an African emphasis as the ‘firstborn,’ or simply recognise the presence of God in the whole created order around us as Christ did, we need theologies and spiritualities which recognise that “the earth is the Lord’s” and not ours. Christ reconciles the whole creation to God, not just humanity (Colossians 1:20). Jesus’ resurrection is but the beginning of the restoration not only of humanity, but of all things. And we need to continue with the development of ways of living that are better attuned to the rhythms of the natural world and in harmony with the rest of creation.
(Source: Church of Scotland)
Prayers of who we are God of the potter’s hand,
creator of all that has been, all that is, and all that will be.
We wonder at the beauty of the world aroundus,
the brooding purple hills and clouds grey with rain
the outrageous dancing of daffodils
frolicking lambs, soaring eagles
and gardens bursting with the buds of Spring.
All around us is beauty that sings of your goodness.
And yet, so often, we fail to see that beauty within ourselves
and we forget that we are created by your good hand
and we pretend that we are totally in charge of ourselves
and we resist being shaped, like clay on the wheel,
and we miss becoming vessels that will hold and carry
your promise to the world.
We confess that fear gets in the way:
letting go, into your will is risky
being changed is a bit frightening
being remade can be disorientating
for a while
and even knowing all that, we ask you
to throw us into new pots
on your wheel of creative energy,
deep mercy and costly love
take our clay, ancient and new
and do what you will
discard what is unnecessary and remake us,
until our souls echo the shape
of faith, hope and love
and we are formed
conformed and reformed
born again in love outrageous
into the community of heaven here on earth. Amen. (Source: Rev Jennie Gordon)
Prayers of who we are (reflection on Gospel reading)
God of life
you call us out of our domestic ideas of faith;
safe, sure and hereditary
and challenge us to imagine
ourselves as followers of the one
who stretched out his arms to us
in costly love
God of life,
you call us out of our delusion of self-control
and name those things that possess us
causing us to be mean and selfish
fearful and closed off to ourselves and to others
and you remind us
of your great abundance
and your invitation to the feast
God of life,
you call us into a new way of being
being shaped by walking the way of the cross
being communities of real reconciliation
where we find ourselves
in relationship with the other
and you remind us of the presence of the Spirit
in all our waking and our sleeping. Amen
(Source: Rev Jennie Gordon)
God of life, in your hand we find our lives.
Be present with us as we leave this space.
Let your Spirit remain with each of us
as you mould us, shape us and remake us
today and every day
until we conform to the shape
that you call us to take;
the shape of love
known and shown in Jesus the Christ. Amen.
(Source: Rev Jennie Gordon)