(may also be celebrated on the first Sunday in November)
Readings: Year A Rev 7: 9-17: They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Psalm 34: 1-10, 22 O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him 1 John 3: 1-3 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are Matthew 5: 1-12: Beatitudes
Readings:Year B Wisdom of Solomon 3: 1-9 or Isaiah 25: 6-9 Psalm 24 Revelation 21: 1-6a John 11: 32-44
Heaven and earth are filled Heaven and earth are filled with the light of the saints who have gone on before us shining around us still as we’re running this race grateful the path is lit for us. (Christopher Grundy, 2015 Hand and Soil Music) Soundcloud file here.
One of the ‘Five Marks of Mission’ includes the commitment to Christian mission, “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Care for the environment continues to be a core part of what it means to be a Christian. As we approach the COP26 international climate summit being held in Glasgow in November 2021 the following may guide congregations, ministers and worship leaders:
The urgency and gravity of the situation, as highlighted by the recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which was described as a ‘code red for humanity‘, and the acknowledgement that the climate and biodiversity crisis not only represent a failure of our stewardship of God’s creation but that the precipitous decline in global ecosystems threatens the wellbeing of billions of lives dependent upon them
The role of faith, communal worship and prayer in helping to shape our attitudes and behaviours, including to continue to have hope even (or especially) when a situation is difficult, and in particular to have the chance to remember the situation of sisters and brothers all over the world suffering from the impact of global heating
The practical decisions the Church has taken for itself, including to disinvest from fossil fuel companies and setting the church on a pathway to Net Zero carbon emissions by the year 2030
The importance of decisions by governments from countries around the world to set more ambitious carbon reductions targets, for rich countries to be generous in the sharing of wealth to support poorer nations affected by loss and damage caused by the changing climate, and for an end to government subsidies and investment in fossil fuel businesses
How to support young people within and beyond the Church to let their voices be heard
Not much introduction is needed for this week’s Lectionary. It’s all about love for God and love for neighbour. Whether we explore this through Jesus’ conversation with the legal expert or through Ruth’s commitment to Naomi, the message remains the same: if we’re seeking life, we must go by the way of love. May our worship lead us deeper into love this week.
READINGS: Ruth 1:1-18: Naomi, who had settled in Moab with her husband, returns to her homeland after her husband and sons die, leaving her with only her daughters-in-law. Though she instructs the two women to return to their parents’ homes, Ruth insists on staying with Naomi and returning with her to Israel.
OR Deuteronomy 6:1-9: In order to enjoy a long and prosperous life, Moses instructs the people of Israel to follow God’s laws faithfully. In particular, the great commandment to love God with heart, soul and strength must be taught and included in every facet of life.
Psalm 146: A psalm of praise celebrating God’s protection and provision for those who trust in God, the Creator and redeemer of all, and encouraging them not to place their trust in human leaders.
OR Psalm 119:1-8: Thanksgiving for the joy that God’s decrees bring, confession of weakness in following God’s ways, and a prayer for God’s help in being obedient.
Hebrews 9:11-14: Christ, the high priest entered God’s holy place with his own blood as a sacrifice for our deliverance, which is much more effective than the blood of bulls and goats.
Mark 12:28-34: When a legal expert asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replies that it is to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength. Then he adds that the second is like it, and is to love one’s neighbour as oneself. The expert replies that Jesus has spoken well, and Jesus tells him that he not far from God’s Reign.
(Bible summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise) Continue reading →
Readings Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Job recognises that he had spoken without knowledge, and that he has now encountered God. Then God blesses Job beyond the prosperity he had at first. Psalm 34:1-8 (19-22)
A song of thanksgiving for God’s restoration received when the Psalmist sought God. Though the righteous have troubles, God delivers them. Hebrews 7:23-28
Jesus is an eternal priest who constantly prays for God’s people. He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day because he offered himself once and for all. Mark 10:46-52
As Jesus enters Jericho a blind man named Bartimaeus shouts out asking for Jesus to have mercy on him. Then Jesus calls the blind man, and asks him what he wants. When he answers that he wants to see, Jesus heals him, and he follows Jesus.
(Bible summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise) Continue reading →
Readings: Job 38:1-7 (34-41) God answers Job, questioning where he was when God created the earth, who orders the clouds and lightning and can create rain, and who provides food for wild animals and birds. Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c In praise of God’s glory and majesty, for the way God established the earth and commanded the waters, and for the way God has filled the earth with God’s creation. Hebrews 5:1-10 High priests offer gifts and sacrifices on behalf of the people and deals with them gently, because he is aware of his own weakness. In the same way, Jesus was appointed by God, and offered prayer for his life to God, who saved him. Now he offers salvation to those who trust him. Mark 10:35-45 James and John ask Jesus to be allowed to sit at his right and left when Jesus enters glory. Then after assuring them that they will share in his suffering, Jesus teaches all the disciples that those who want to be great among his disciples must be the servant of all, just as Jesus came to serve and not be served. (Summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise) Continue reading →
Theme: “Building Forward Together: Ending Persistent Poverty, Respecting all People and our Planet”.
There are 836 million people in the world living in extreme poverty and almost half of those are children under 18. For these children and families, every day is a struggle to survive. The COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world during the past year has resulted in reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty and extreme poverty. According to the World Bank, between 88 and 115 million people are being pushed into poverty as a result of the crisis, with the majority of the new extreme poor being found in South Asian and Sub-Saharan countries where poverty rates are already high”. In 2021, this number is expected to have risen to between 143 and 163 million. These ‘new poor’ will join the ranks of the 1.3 billion people already living in multidimensional and persistent poverty who saw their pre-existing deprivations aggravated during the global pandemic. As a matter of fact, the measures imposed to limit the spread of the pandemic often further pushed them into poverty – the informal economy which enables many people in poverty to survive was virtually shut down in many countries. Impact of COVID 19 on poverty. Implementation of the 3rd Decade of the UN Elimination of Poverty strategy
October 16th is World Food Day proclaimed in 1979 by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O.) of the United Nations, to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty, as well as an understanding that everyone should have access healthy food regardless if you’re rich or poor.
#WorldFoodDay 2021 will be marked a second time while countries around the world deal with the widespread effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a time to look into the future we need to build together.
As a global community, we each have the power to change how our food is grown and distributed. We need everyone – from government officials who are in charge of policy-making decisions about land use or subsidies for farmers’ incomes; private companies that design products with ingredients sourced responsibly (and not just cheap fats); even individual consumers can make an impact by demanding corporations operate ethically! Together we can empower each and every element of our agri-food systems to collaborate more fairly, sustainably and inclusively from farm to table, and beyond.
World Food Day aims at transforming agri-food systems so that everyone will have access to enough, safe nutritious food without discrimination or oppression based on where they live.
2021 theme: ‘Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together’. The theme highlights the learnings from the past year which have emphasised the need for collective action and universal hand hygiene.
Global Handwashing Day was founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership, a coalition of international stakeholders who work explicitly to promote handwashing with soap. The day is celebrated every year on October 15 with an aim to educate people that handwashing with soap is an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and it saves lives.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since then, Global Handwashing Day has continued to grow. Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by governments, schools, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, individuals, and more.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that hands are the main pathways of germ transmission and thus handwashing is the single most important measure to avoid the spread of infections and keep people healthy. According to UNICEF, the simple act of handwashing after going to the toilet or before eating can reduce the risk of children getting diarrhoea by more than 40%. In COVID-19 times, handwashing is likely to reduce the chances of COVID-19 infection by 36%.
Most of us have been washing our hands rather frequently in this COVID time. Washing our hands could be a personal reflection to remember our Baptism or it could be a time to pray over a situation in which we ask God for forgiveness. What may seem like a meaningless task can be turned into an intentional one. This could be a practice that not only cleans our hands but can open our hearts up to receive or give forgiveness through the Holy Spirit.
A 20 second prayer during handwashing As I take up my hands to wash them and reassure my heart, I pray for healing and wholeness for the whole world. I remember that every life is unique and of infinite value: from those living on the most remote part of the globe to those in our cities to our neighbors and family members. Let me use my hands for good to help bring love and compassion to others. “Let us lift up our hearts and hands to the Eternal.” (Lam 3:41)
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Lord. It is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; Let it be. The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you. The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace. The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities. In your name we pray. Amen. (Would be very appropriate on Easter Saturday or Christmas Eve) (Source: New Zealand Prayer Book)
The International Day of Older Persons is a celebration of the older people in all societies, and a reminder to continue developing a society for all ages. It is an opportunity to challenge negative stereotypes and misconceptions about older persons and aging.
“It is widely recognised that older persons are an asset to the society; their wisdom, value-system and experience helps in guiding and mentoring the present generation…..What is important is not merely adding ‘years to life’ but also adding ‘life to years’”.
Uniting Churches are being encouraged to recognise the human rights and dignity of older people on the first Sunday after the United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons. The United Nations established the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) in 1990 as a way to focus attention around the globe on the barriers to respect and dignity for older people caused by ageism. In 2021 the theme stresses digital equality for older people. Digital access has become a more important issue with the challenges of the COVID pandemic.
Resources from the United Nations on the IDOP, and the 2021 theme are available here.
The 2021 theme is “Digital Equity for All Ages”predicates the need for access and meaningful participation in the digital world by older persons. The fourth industrial revolution characterized by rapid digital innovation, characterized by exponential growth has transformed all sectors of society including how we live, work and relate to one another. Technological advances offer great hope for accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, one-half of the global population is off-line, with the starkest differences reflected between most and least developed countries (87% and 19% respectively) (ITU Facts and Figures 2020). Recent reports by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) indicate that women and older persons experience digital inequity to a greater extent than other groups in society; they either lack access to technologies or are often not benefitting fully from the opportunities provided by technological progress. Meanwhile, as efforts to connect more people are currently under way, new risks have become apparent. For example, cybercrimes and misinformation threaten the human rights, privacy, and security of older people. The rapid speed of adoption of digital technology has outpaced policy and governance at the national, regional, and global levels. The Secretary-General’s Roadmap seeks to address these challenges by recommending concrete action to harness the best of these technologies and mitigate their risks.
Objectives of #UNIDOP2021: * Ageism & Human Rights To bring awareness of the importance of digital inclusion of older persons, while tackling stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination associated with digitalization taking into account sociocultural norms and the right to autonomy. * Sustainable Development To highlight policies to leverage digital technologies for full achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). * Access & Literacy To address public and private interests, in the areas of availability, connectivity, design, affordability, capacity building, infrastructure, and innovation. * Cybersecurity & Ethics To explore the role of policies and legal frameworks to ensure privacy and safety of older persons in the digital world. * Accountability To highlight the need for a legally binding instrument on the rights of older persons and an intersectional person-centered human rights approach for a society for all ages.
Prayer God of the unknown, as age draws in on us, irresistible as the tide, make our life’s last quarter the best that there has been. As our strength ebbs, release our inner vitality, all you have taught us over the years; as our energy diminishes increase our compassion, and educate our prayer. You have made us human to share your divine life; grant us the first fruits; make our life’s last quarter the best that there has been. Amen. (Source: A New Zealand Prayer Book, pg. 747)
Prayers for others On this United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons, we pray for all who are in their senior years. We pray for churches that run lunches, cafés, clubs and groups of all kinds for older people. We pray that those who have the wisdom of many decades find opportunities to tell their stories. And we pray that all who are lonely in their later years find the love of God shown to them in the love of church communities. Until thy kingdom come. Amen
Prayers for Others God, parent of us all, you see every one of us as your child, no matter how young or old. You have known us every second of our lives. You gift us every breath, and you sustain us every day. We hold before you this International Day of the Older Person every adult living in the late autumn of their lives silence … no matter they be rich, or poor, comfortable or struggling; no matter they be well or unwell; no matter what creed, or colour, or faith they belong, we ask your blessing upon them this day. God of love/Hear our prayer Loving God, we pray especially for older adults who are lonely: those whose loved ones are gone or those who have never enjoyed the relationships they might have had; those who feel abandoned and unsure of their worth; those who live alone, and who feel isolated even when they are in company. Give to each person the knowledge that you are with them always, and help us to befriend the lonely, sharing with them the companionship we have found in you. God of love/Hear our prayer Loving God, we pray for the sick… those afflicted in body, those in pain, those wrestling with disease, or coming to terms with frailty. We pray for the troubled in mind; those whose confidence has been crushed, those who face sorrow or suffering, those who feel their hopes have been dashed and dreams broken, the let-down, the betrayed, the abused. We pray for those who struggle to cope with the pressures of life, who are oppressed by false imagination, or facing the dark of depression. We pray for those afflicted in spirit: all who feel their lives are empty, or who feel they have lost their faith… Living God, hold on to all who walk through the valley of tears. Minister the consolation that you alone can offer, and give the assurance that those who mourn will be comforted, and those who weep will laugh. Be that sure foundation in people’s lives, that come what may, their knowing of your love and presence with them, will uphold their spirits, and be an endless source of comfort, peace, and joy. God of love/Hear our prayer We pray for the dying… That wherever these people are in this moment that you will come as close to them as their very breath and bring your forgiveness and peace. In a moment of silence we name those we know and care for… God of love/Hear our prayer Holy One, we know, that every aging heart is held in your hands, young and vibrant to your touch. We see how you use the wisdom, knowledge and experience of the older generations to teach the young, to bring old insight to new problems, and to give love and security where there is uncertainty. You trusted an old man to build an ark and save humanity from the flood. You brought a child to Abraham and Sarah despite their years, a child who signalled the beginning of Israel. You guided an aging Moses through the desert so he could lead thousands to the promised-land, you gave Zechariah and Elizabeth a son in their old age, a son who would prepare the way for your own, and you gave the aged Simeon and Anna the honour of first recognising the infant Jesus in the temple, seeing someone who no one else saw. Your continued engagement with older adults is sure; and yet society is so quick to forget this generation. We are sorry. God of love/Hear our prayer We hold before you for blessing in thanks those people and organisations who care for needs of older persons in our city… Aged Care facilities, Chaplains and pastoral carers, those who provide in-home care, every person or organisation working to better the lives of our elders. God of love/Hear our prayer (Source: Revd. Amy Houben)
Charlie Chaplin The photo below is Charlie Chaplin at age 26, photographed 100 years ago. Below is a poem he read on his 70th birthday, written by Kim McMillen. As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is Authenticity. As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call this Respect. As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call this Maturity. As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call this Self-Confidence. As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call this Simplicity. As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is Love of Oneself. As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is Modesty. As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it Fulfillment. As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection Wisdom of the Heart. We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing, new worlds are born. Today I know: This is Life!
Blessing Go as beloved of God to grow old in Christ. Be blessed in years and be a blessing to God’s Kingdom. Keep alive the gifts of wisdom received from older friends and become the gift of wisdom for those who follow. Remember you are God’s children even into old age: and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be with you always. Amen.