Gandhi’s birth anniversary 2nd October

In 2019, it will be Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.
Here is his prayer for peace.
GANDHI’S PRAYER FOR PEACE
I offer you peace
I offer you love
I offer you friendship
I see your beauty
I hear your need
I feel your feelings
My wisdom flows from the highest source
I salute that source in you
Let us work together
For unity and peace.

Rather than simply reading his prayer-poem and thinking ‘oh isn’t that nice’, let’s put it to super good use as a way of seeing those we view as ‘the other’ in a different perspective. We are about to read the prayer-poem a number of times, in a number of ways. As you read, hear the words, the sound and feel the vibration.
1) Read the poem.
Sit quietly for one minute with the thoughts of the poem. Be aware of what comes to mind. Your thoughts may be directly related to the words of the poem or may take you somewhere else. Be very aware of where, or to whom, these thoughts take you.
2) The scene in this poem is as though two people are sitting face to face, looking directly into each other’s eyes. Read the poem again, perhaps several times. Each time you read it, imagine two people who may be currently seen as oppositional, saying this poem to each other. For example, an Israeli and a Palestinian, a white supremacist with a Chinese-American, one world leader to another, a logger with a ‘greenie.’ Imagine what may have happened if the British had said this to the Native Americans, or the French to the Vietnamese, the Romans to the Jews of Bethlehem.
3) Braver still, can you say the poem to someone you know? If not out loud, say it in your head, imagining someone you are currently experiencing difficulty with; where a relationship has turned sour. This may be your partner, your teenager, your mother or father, a work colleague perhaps.
Be mindful of your thoughts; be aware of the way your body responds; be conscious of your feelings.
4) Finally, we all know that we are often in conflict with ourselves. Internally, one part of us arguing with another part of ourselves. Read the prayer-poem again, this time allowing the parts of you in conflict to speak to each other. Again, be aware of how you are feeling now.
(Source: Margaret Hepworth’s blog)

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COCU59C.6 Oct 2019

Readings:
Lamentations 1: 1-6
Psalm 137
2 Timothy 1: 1-14
Luke 17: 5-10

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.

Life-giving Spirit,
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, Amen.
(Source: Rev. Jennie Gordon)

Prayer of Thanksgiving
We offer our thanks, O God, for the invitation to faith.
We are grateful for all the joy that it brings to us,
when all of life looks different
and imbued with new possibilities each day.
We celebrate the company we may keep with others
who celebrate your grander hopes for humanity and for the future. Amen.
(Source: Words for Worship 2010, adapted)

Prayer of Confession
In your company, O God, we open our lives to you.
We see ourselves in ways that usually lie hidden within our lives.
A silence is kept
Forgive us when we forget that we all need your mercy.
Restore us to our rightful place as your ordinary humble people.

Words of Assurance
Hear the kindness which is offered to us
when we remember who we are
and ask for the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
There is no condemnation for those who believe.
We are forgiven!
Thanks be to God!
(Source: Words for Worship 2010, adapted)

Prayers of dedication/offering prayers

Prayers of intercession
(see other prayers of intercession here). 
O Jesus Christ, as we try to live with faith,
we long to be part of the transformation of the world.
In you, we can see a vision of life built on true justice,
of people freed from exploitation
and the reign of peace in every place.
Sustain our faith, we pray, 
that we may never give up on the task
for the re-creation of our life together. 
Gather in the lost and the lonely,
that they may safely enter the sanctuary
of your love and care.
Give to them the faith that there is love
waiting for them near at hand.
May they believe that we can be that place
and that a true welcome awaits them among us. 
We also pray that people will be able to look at your church
and see the signs of a faith which is so humble and unassuming,
that they can safely approach and touch your life alongside us.
Give to us such a sense of holiness
that all our lives testify to the privilege which we share
in relating to you and to your hopes for us. 
Expand our expectations about what could be changed,
and who could be healed by your love and care.
Give to us a prophetic vision and voice in our generation. 
This we pray in faith. Amen.
(Source: Words for Worship 2010)

Commissioning and benediction
Go forth as the people of God
to join hands with all who long for faith
in a world of doubt and struggle.
May our hearts sing with thankfulness for all we receive,
our spirits rise in hope as we enter each new day with Jesus Christ
and our lives be a sign of a goodness which is freely given to others. Amen.
(Source: Words for Worship 2010)

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Social Justice Sunday – 29September2019

Social Justice Sunday is held annually on the last Sunday in September.

“Justice is the Body of Love ~ Love is the Soul of Justice” (John Dominic Crossan)

Resources for Social Justice Sunday on NCCA website.

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 RohrExcellent resources on this website: Worship Materials: Justice and Peace (William L. Wallace)

The Prophetic Voice
God of Justice!
We call on you to guide
all those on this Land
to seek Justice.
Bless and renew our hearts and minds,
so that we may see with your insight,
mindful of the calling
to walk in your way of peace and reconciliation.
Seed in us the desire to be agitators
for holy change.

May the blessings we receive
inspire and nourish us
to bless those around us
with words of comfort
and actions of healing.
Inspire in our mouths
the words of your good news
for the sake of the world you love.

May we grow in the courage of Christ,
becoming and being prepared to take up the cross,
rather than buy in to the pressure
of dehumanizing and demeaning
that places avarice before generosity.
Gift us with the desire to share in joyful community.
Make us into catalysts for relationships.
Form us as people who become nourishment for the world.

May we deepen in our reading of your Scriptures,
that we might see your promises of mercy written in our souls.
May we work, throughout Australia,
and through our international partnerships,
to bring about a foretaste of the state of mercy and blessing
that characterizes Heaven.

Just as we seek mercy,
teach us to recognize the power imbalances
that prevent the full experience of abundant life.
May we learn to repent of those habits
that destroy your beautiful plan.
Rather, let us learn the creativity of your nature,
to better use our gifts for the sake of grace.

God of Justice,
be our Teacher and our Defender!
Correct us, so we can learn how to speak Truth.
And, when we do – protect us from the evils we confront,
For this is your will to be done
And we are honoured by your call.

So, we commit this day,
to be your holy and vocal people.
We commit to stand up for your beloved creation,
especially those who are marginalised
by the cultures of judgement and shame around us.
May we stand with them.
So be it.
(Source: Amelia Koh-Butler, Hyphenated Faith, 2017)


Let Justice Flow Down
For half the world’s population who have to live on less than $1 a day
Let justice flow down like a river
For all those suffering from malnutrition and treatable diseases
Let justice flow down like a river
For all those who experience discrimination on the grounds of gender, age, role, religion, beliefs, disability or sexuality.
Let justice flow down like a river
For all those who sleep rough;
and those who have nowhere they can call home.
Let justice flow down like a river
For all those who have experienced physical, mental or emotional abuse, or domestic violence.
Let justice flow down like a river
For all those who are unemployed, or in employment that is dehumanising or degrading.
Let justice flow down like a river
For all those who are denied their basic human rights by military dictatorship or oppression.
Let justice flow down like a river
Justice is the currency of love in society.
Let us be instruments of justice in the world.
(Source: Roger Courtney, Progressive Christianity)

 Love Is Calling
“Love is calling for liberation.
Love is hoarse from calling,
her voice raw from the decades
she has spent chanting at protests
and speaking from pulpits
and singing the songs of freedom.
Love is weeping into a white candle
she cups in her hands at a vigil
for one more Black life lost,
ripped away, gunned down, forgotten.
She is holding the hands of a grieving mother
and praying aloud for peace.

This is where Love shows up,
where Love has always shown up.
She is tugging at our hands and sleeves,
begging us to lay down our egos
and take up our courage
and dedicate our lives to justice.”
(Source: Jess Reynolds, Love Like Thunder)

Rev Dr Nymabura Njoroge, from Kenya (who now works for the World Council of Churches) is a theologian, who knows from personal experience and from the experience of her people, the extent of suffering and injustice present in our global community.
She has seen her communities devastated by AIDS. She has experienced discrimination as a woman in the church. She has struggled with the poverty and violence decimating African communities.
In this context Nyambura speaks of “a spirituality of resistance and transformation.”
Resistance to all that would dehumanise us and divide us from God and from each other, transformation of our realities into a world where God’s desires for us are realised – peace with justice, love and compassion mark our lives together.
Nyambura writes:
“A spirituality of resistance and transformation demands that we share the good news of the possibility of new life in the presence of death here and now. It is a spirituality that invokes a passion that believes positive change is possible. In Africa as we watch the escalating anarchy in many countries and in our streets, it is difficult to comprehend how we can end violent death and proclaim new life in Christ.
“We even wonder where God is when such chaos and destruction take place. We therefore need a zeal that believes… that we can sit down together and engage in dialogue over our difference. Passionate commitment is needed whereby we are not afraid to try new ways of relating to our neighbours and our enemies. Such zeal would be willing to listen to the word of God in the scriptures that require that we trust in God and act justly. “
Nyambura Njoroge and other women like her are seeking to nurture faith that engages the people of God in ways that will transform the whole of our realities: spiritually, politically, economically, and socially.

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COCU58C.29thSeptember2019

Readings
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15: In spite of his prophecies of the destruction of Judah, Jeremiah buys his cousin’s field and proclaims God’s word that people will again buy property in the land of Judah.
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16: God promises refuge, protection and long life to those who trust in God.
1 Timothy 6:6-19: Followers of Christ are encouraged to be content with what they have, not to strive after wealth, and to share generously with others.
Luke 16:19-31: Jesus tells a parable about a wealthy man who failed to share with the poor beggar outside of his gates, and who finds himself in torment after death, while Lazarus, the beggar, finds himself in comfort.

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/670721

There was a rich man
who was dressed in purple and fine linen
and who feasted sumptuously every day.
And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus…

—Luke 16.19-20
If I believed in a literal hell I would have to take note
that here and in the great judgment of the sheep and goats,
the one criterion for being sent up or down
is how we treat the poor.
Of course I give to the poor at the food bank.
But I still keep them outside my gate, don’t I?
And what of the socially homeless, the wounded,
the lonely, the scared, the trans, the different?
How do I cut myself off
from the hurting outside my gate?
How do I shelter myself in my privilege?
How do I love that gate?
What shields me from other people’s suffering,
from other people’s vulnerability?
Today will I even notice it?
What can I do today to open the gate,
to invite them in, or to go out?
Only when the gates are open can they become
the gates of heaven.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

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COCU57C.22Sept2019

Readings
Jeremiah 8:18 – 9:1Psalm 79:1-91 Timothy 2:1-8Luke 16:1-13

(Reflecting on Luke 16:1-13)
Christ,
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.
Amen.
(Source: Jon Humphries)

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World Week for Peace Palestine Israel:15-22 Sept 2019

The third week of September is the annual World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI). It includes the International Day of Peace. This week is a time for people of faith to join together in worship and prayer in support of an end to the occupation of Palestine. WWPPI calls on its participants to work for an end to the occupation, so that Palestinians and Israelis can finally live in peace. Learn more about this issue at Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel.

The 2019 theme is Humanity and Equality for all in God’s Creation.

The 2018 theme is “Youth and Children: Raising Hope and Making Change”. Youth and children are the ones who suffer the most in conflicts and under occupation. They are also the ones who will hold the future of Palestine and Israel in their hands, the ones we pray will grow up with peace and prosperity.
WCC background information and prayers here. WWPPI-2018

2017 marked 50 years of Israeli occupation of Palestine. 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of the Gaza blockade. The young people of Palestine and Israel have known nothing else but the tragic division created by the occupation.

wwppiWorld Week for Peace in Palestine Israel
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. Events and activities are planned 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.

WWPPI – World Council of Churches website
The 2018 theme will be published in the end of April. Focus on children and youth in Palestine and Israel. Resources will be published at the end of June.

Here’s a wonderful prayer resource on the Christian Aid website. Well worth checking out.

Useful websiteSabeel Kairos

Prayer for peace by Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah

Video shows 3,000 Israelis, Muslims, Jews and Christian together in Haifa singing Matisyahu’s “ONE DAY”

Gallery of images (WCC)

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.
(Source: Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC General Secretary)

Prayer for Peace with Justice in Israel/Palestine
(inspired by Psalm 23 and A Moment of Truth: Kairos Palestine, section 3)
God, you are our hope, we shall not let go.
You help us seek peace, justice, hope, and dignity for Palestinians and Israelis,
You lead us towards courageous actions.
We stand in solidarity with those in places of unrest, and living with instabilityand fear, to advocate for the basic human rights of all people, support the peace-builders who are actively resisting the dehumanizing forces of violence, and better proclaim the gospel of peace for your sake.
Even though there is uncertainty, indifference, and opposition,
grant us the strength to continually seek an end to the occupation,
so that Israelis and Palestinians can create a better future for themselves.
Even as we dream of a time when Israel/Palestine will be a symbol of hope, peace, and reconciliation, help us to be mindfully aware of the volatile present.
Draw close to the multitude of injured and grieving people in the Holy Land;
gather up the hopeless, and abide with the physically and emotionally oppressed;
may your presence and your kin’dom comfort our siblings in their suffering.
God, prepare tables of dialogue and opportunities for truth-telling around us.
Open the hearts of hurting people so that they may witness small signs of hope.
Surely, with your help, we will continue to seek justice and resist evil, all the days of our lives, until all are able to live abundantly. Amen.
(Source: United Church Canada)

Prayer: Where are you, God?
Voice A: Just and merciful God,
we glimpse your presence in the world you have created,
its power and its beauty, music and poetry,
its diversity, fertility, the possibility of food for everyone
ancient olive trees and fruit to be harvested
the dream of fullness of life for all your children:
Yes, God, you are with us in this world.
Yes, God, you are with us in this world.
Voice B: Yet we see that power misused, beauty marred,
Discord, lies and fear dividing humankind
as well as concrete walls and barbed wire
failure to share causing hunger or consuming anger.
Where are you, God?
Where are you, God?
Voice A: We hear the Good News that Jesus brought,
the affirmation of the value of every human life,
the Gospel that commands us to seek peace with justice;
we understand that costly reconciliation is at its heart:
Yes, God, you are with us in this world.
Yes, God, you are with us in this world.
Voice B: Yet we see that good news denied by apathy,
mocked by prejudice, hatred and refusal to forgive,
and we feel helpless in the face of suffering.
Where are you, God?
Where are you, God?
Voice A: You are present where women and men of good will
still choose to live in your way,
caring for creation and for each other,
courageously speaking truth to power.
Voice B: You are there when elderly people share their wisdom,
And young people share their dreams.
You are there when street children dance in the rain,
where, over the rubble, kites are flying.
You are present wherever, in this broken world, hope is alive.
(Source: Jan Sutch Pickard, Pax Christi)

“Then justice will dwell in the land and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
The effect of righteousness will be peace 
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” — Isaiah 32:16-17
O God of life and love and peace,
We witness the violence and injustice in your Holy Land
And our hearts break.
Our hearts break for all Palestinians –
For the victims of violent attacks from Israelis
For those who have endured decades of occupation and oppression
For those whose homes and olive orchards have been demolished
For those who languish in Israeli prisons and in the “open air prison” of Gaza
For those without nearly enough water and electricity and medical care
For those who are refugees, long displaced from their homes.
Our hearts break for the Jewish people of Israel—
For the victims of violent attacks from Palestinians
For those who live with fear and insecurity
For those who re-live the trauma of the Holocaust over and over.
Our hearts break for the wider world—
For those who are indifferent to the pain and suffering in your Holy Land
For those who distort or turn their eyes from truth
For those who fail to see the humanity of all your children.
Heal us all, O God.
Heal the broken and comfort the sorrowful.
Give hope to the hopeless and courage to the fearful.
Strengthen the peacemakers and reconcilers.
Confront those who practice injustice and commit violence.
We especially pray—
That weapons of war be laid down
That walls of separation and the machinery of occupation be dismantled
That prisoners be released
That demonizing of “the other” cease
That political leaders seek the good of all people in Palestine and Israel.
We pray also for ourselves –
That our eyes will be opened to the ways in which our beliefs and actions have contributed to injustice and to violence.
O God, whose heart breaks for the world,
May your justice dwell in the land
May your righteousness abide in fruitful fields
May the effect of righteousness be quietness and trust forever
May the effect of justice be peace – enduring peace.
Amen
(Source: Mennonite Central Committee 2018)

Sabeel Wave of Prayer – Thursday 27th September 2018
The ‘Great March of Return’ continues with more Palestinians coming under live fire from the Israeli military forces. It has also been reported that Palestinian fishermen are coming under pressure from frequent arrests and live fire from the Israeli Navy. This constant pressure on the livelihoods of these fishermen means that 95% of the fishing industry in Gaza now live below the poverty line.
Lord, we continue to hold the protestors in our prayers; cast your net of protection over Gaza and its fisherman so that they may catch abundant fish without the threat of arrest or injury.
Lord, in your mercy . . . Hear our prayers.
Thirty-four Democratic senators, more than a third of the U.S. Senate, have signed a letter criticising the Trump administration’s recent decisions to withhold American aid from the Palestinians. The senators warned that these cuts, including the loss of aid to hospitals in Israeli-controlled East Jerusalem, will harm Israel’s security. Now, Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling on President Trump to reverse his decision to impose cuts, saying that they will contribute towards a humanitarian crisis in the region.
Lord, you never faint or grow weary. We pray for the efforts of lawmakers around the world who work for the powerless and the dispossessed. We pray that you would renew their strength and encourage them in their work for justice.
Lord, in your mercy . . .hear our prayers
American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) have recently completed work on a wastewater reuse project in Ramallah to increase the amount of water available for drinking by using wastewater for non-domestic uses including firefighting and irrigation of crops and gardens. Ramallah City, the West Bank, suffers from severe water shortages resulting from drought, population growth, and Israel’s limiting Palestinian access to groundwater resources.
God who called us forth from the dust and watered our lands with countless streams and great rivers, as we gaze upon this world that so thirsts for your water let it remind us of all the thirsts in this land: the thirst for justice, the thirst for peace, the thirst for opportunity, the thirst for reconciliation and the thirst for hope.
Lord, in your mercy . . .hear our prayers
The Israeli Civil Administration announced an expansion plan of the Israeli settlement of Tina Omarim in the town of Dahriyeh, Hebron. The Land Research Centre, a Palestinian research centre, released a report on Monday, the 17th of September, which shows that the Israeli Civil Administration have published a plan that would change the classification of the Palestinian-owned land from agricultural to urban, in order to justify expanding the illegal Israeli settlement. The report said that the plan would lead to the seizure of 260 dunums, (64 acres) of Palestinian-owned land in the al-Thahriyeh town.
Lord, the Israeli occupation continues to dispossess the Palestinian people of their land. We pray that those who stand for international law and human rights would speak out and expose the illegal actions of Israel.
Lord, in your mercy . . .hear our prayers
Sabeel continues to organise local Bible study groups in the community to help Christians to come together and reflect on what it means to follow Christ today, living under the oppressive constraints in the land of Palestine and Israel.
Lord, your words are life and light. We give thanks to all the lay leaders who help organise the Bible Study groups and prepare the material. Accept our prayers as incense offered to you, and our upraised hands as an evening offering (Psalm 141).
Lord, in your mercy . . .hear our prayers
Several international groups are to participate in the Palestine Circus Festival, set to take place in 32 locations across the occupied West Bank, which will be held under the slogan ‘United for Freedom’.
Lord, we thank you for those willing to bring their creative gifts together to highlight injustice. May your innovative spirit bless all those involved with this project.
Lord, in your mercy . . .hear our prayers
(Source: Sabeel Kairos)

Why is this year different – a great liturgy by Jan Such Pickard (written for 2017 but easily adapted)

Blogsite of an EAPPI participant, 2017 (Ecumenical Accompanist Program to Palestine and Israel)

An EAPPI participant’s reflections, posted on Easter Sunday 2017:
I sit with despondency as my head tries to comprehend what it is that causes such deep distrust and enmity between two peoples who have shared this land for millennia. I see so many similarities in these deeply spiritual, tradition-rich peoples – love of family, music, culture, land. Read the full post here Continue reading

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COCU56C.15th September 2019

(see also anniversary of 9/11 – resources here)

Readings:
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28; Psalm 14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10

Call to worship (general) here

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
Even myself
There is One who seeks
One who finds
Me
The lost
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)

Continue reading

Posted in COCU Year C | Comments Off on COCU56C.15th September 2019

COCU55C.8September2019

Readings:
Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-6,13-18; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33

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) Continue reading

Posted in COCU Year C | Comments Off on COCU55C.8September2019

COCU54C.1stSeptember2019

Readings
Jeremiah 2:4-13: God speaks out against God’s people who have forgotten God’s salvation and turned to other gods – God’s people have abandoned God who is the fountain of living water and have dug cracked cisterns for themselves.
OR Sirach 10:12-18: In pride people have departed from God, and God has brought them low and put the humble and lowly in their place.
OR Proverbs 25:6-7: Don’t push for a place of greatness. Rather wait for an invitation than be humiliated.
Psalm 81:1, 10-16: God brought Israel out of Egypt, and longs for Israel to listen to God and follow God’s ways, but they want nothing to do with God.
OR Psalm 112: Those who fear and obey God, who are generous and righteous will know a life of goodness, confidence and richness.
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16: Words to live by: Love one another and be hospitable, share the pain of those who suffer, be faithful in marriage, be content with what you have and follow the example of faithful leaders.
Luke 14:1, 7-14: Jesus advises his followers not to take places of honour at feasts, in case they be asked to move and are humiliated. Rather, he invites them to take seats at the foot of the table, so that if they are invited to a better place, they will be honoured. Further, when hosting dinners, he encourages them to invite those who cannot repay – the marginalised and rejected.

Thom Shuman’s communion liturgy, Lectionary Liturgies

Singing from the Lectionary

Textweek

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on COCU54C.1stSeptember2019

COCU53C.25August2019

Readings
Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71: 1-6; Hebrews 12: 18-29: Luke 13:10-17

Call to Worship
All who are bent over with worry: this is a place of sanctuary.
All who are burdened with life: this is a house of care.
All who are lost to community: this is a company of welcome.
All who travel with questions: this is a community of seekers.
All who reach out for God: this is a sacred space of worship.
Come, let us worship.

Prayers of who we are
God-with-us, we come as people who know the burdens that life brings, as those who know the need for healing – in body, mind and spirit. We have gathered with a sense of the sacredness of this space, aware of your presence flowing from one person to another. We come with our wounds wide open, with our defences down, calling to you as did so many who approached Jesus, saying “Heal me, help me, touch me!” We work hard at being happy, at coping, at surviving, at holding on, but we have come here hoping to let go and to open ourselves to Christ’s healing flow.
A silence is kept for personal reflection
Touch our lives, our God, as we worship here today, and cast your sunlight through our tears till rainbows rise, and plant dreams where wounds leave scars like furrows in broken ground, rekindling our hope, reviving our strength, refreshing our faith. May it be so. Amen.
(Source: Ruth Duck, Touch Holiness, The Pilgrim Press, adapted)

A reflection (could be used in Prayers of Confession/Prayers of who we are, for contemplation)
I am only, I do not know
how or what or where;
I am only, I cannot go,
I am too afraid.
I am only, I have not
height or voice or strength;
I am only, I am little,
broken, old, young.
I am only, I will not
be welcomed, heard or heeded;
I am only, they are more,
so much more than me.
I am only, but I am listening,
I will trust you when you call;
for I am only who I am,
and with you I am not alone.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story) Continue reading

Posted in COCU Year C | Comments Off on COCU53C.25August2019