Christian Aid Week – A Community for Justice

Prayer

Love incarnate,

fountain of mercy and justice
in a world of inequity and pain
may our actions be our prayer.
Let the Spirit of Truth guide us.
Let the Spirit of Love free us.
Give us the courage, compassion and resolve
to become the light we seek
that many may see their life and dignity restored.
Inspire us to embody a world without injustice and prejudice.
Form us into channels of your love and peace.
Let the river of justice and mercy flood our imperfect world,
quenching the thirst of parched souls and parched lands.
Abide in us, O Liberator, that we may become the Word,
so that the world may have Life, in all its abundance.
Amen.

Prayer by the Rev’d Dr Anderson Jeremiah from the book “Rage and Hope: 75 Prayers for a Better World” edited by Chine MacDonald and Wendy Lloyd to celebrate 75 years of Christian Aid.  If you would be interested in buying a copy of this book, you can order it here: https://stclaresatthecathedral.org/product/rage-and-hope-75-prayers-for-a-better-world/ or at most booksellers.

Reading: Micah 6:1-8 (NLT)

Listen to what the Lord is saying:

“Stand up and state your case against me.
    Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints.
And now, O mountains,
    listen to the Lord’s complaint!
He has a case against his people.
    He will bring charges against Israel.

“O my people, what have I done to you?
    What have I done to make you tired of me?
    Answer me!
For I brought you out of Egypt
    and redeemed you from slavery.
    I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to help you.
Don’t you remember, my people,
    how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed
    and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead?
And remember your journey from Acacia Grove to Gilgal,
    when I, the Lord, did everything I could
    to teach you about my faithfulness.”

What can we bring to the Lord?
    Should we bring him burnt offerings?
Should we bow before God Most High
    with offerings of yearling calves?
Should we offer him thousands of rams
    and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
    to pay for our sins?

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Homily

The slogan for this year’s Christian Aid Week, which I now know thanks to Colin and Jane’s excellent quiz last night (sadly, I didn’t know it before the quiz or my team might have done slightly better) is Real People, Real Change – 75 Years of Hope. And Christian Aid is a profoundly hopeful organisations. We have been hearing some challenging messages this morning, as we recognise how our misuse of creation is resulting in suffering for the most vulnerable communities around the globe, and this can feel rather depressing and hope-less. But the task of the prophets – like Micah, but also like Gloria and Katalina and our Christian Aid family around the world – is to inspire our imaginations. To give us a vision of a how the world might be different – a vision compelling enough that we have the courage to live it into reality.

Now Micah was writing a few thousand years before greenhouse gases were a thing – what might he have to say into this very modern crisis of climate change? Well, the crisis might change, but people haven’t, and so the prophet’s words are as fresh and incisive as ever. Micah begins with a message that climate change campaigners have been giving us for years: LISTEN. Don’t bury your head in the ground. Hope and healing is never to be found by ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. We have to face up to the problems of climate change, recognise our part in it, hear the effect it is having on other human families around the world – because only then will we be able to imagine a different world and begin to live into it. So we have to listen, pay attention, to what our modern day prophets and creation itself are saying to us.

Micah, then, speaking what he feels God has called him to say asks creation to bear witness on the peoples’ sin, and asks the people to remember all God has done for them. Creation does indeed bear witness to the consequences of our choices. A few years ago I remember going to a beautiful little beach in a remote part of Skye and finding it utterly ruined by plastic waste that had been washed up by the currents. I can still feel now the frustration and disappointment in my stomach at the despoilation of that beautiful corner of God’s world. And this is a small tragedy in comparison to so much that is happening. God has given us such a beautiful abundant world – let us remember that gift with gratitude and do our best to protect it.

Finally, Micah calls on the people to act – not with grand gestures, but with values and attitudes that inspire everyday choices. Real people making real changes leading to real hope. Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God, Micah says – a compelling vision for human life that speaks down through the ages and inspires us today.

So how might we, as a community of justice, work for climate justice and the wellbeing of all creation.

Firstly, we must not underestimate the task – either in changing the world, or changing ourselves. Our first step is prayer, and if you need inspiration a good place to start is the Christian Aid 75th Anniversary book “Rage and Hope” which we used for our opening prayer. It contains not just 75 beautiful, inspiring and challenging prayers, but some wonderful explanations of the work of Christian Aid and the issues that are affecting its partners around the world.

Then we can give. Things are far from hopeless. The money we have raised this week WILL make a difference. It could buy the parts to create a community dam providing water security for a community affected by climate change. It could pay for trees to reverse deforestation and improve the land. Real people, real change, real hope – please be as generous as you can!

Lastly, we must ACT on climate injustice as individuals and together. As individuals, we might look at how we choose to travel, or invest, or power our homes or the amount of plastic we buy. We can make sure our local government representatives and the businesses we support know that climate justice matters to us and encourage them to make good decisions and show just leadership. As a group, we might want to work towards our Silver or Gold Eco Church Award.

So pray for change in both ourselves and our world. Give and support Christian Aid partners making a real differences in communities affected by the climate crisis, and act, act now, to reduce our consumption and burden on creation. Be hopeful, and hold to a vision of a world sustained by love of neighbour and not growing GDP figures. It doesn’t have to be this way – let us pray, give, act and live our way into a different future.

Amen

Prayers by Emili Lowery

We come before the Lord thankful for all that He has done and continues to do in our lives. Knowing that He always listens to our prayers we bring before Him all our intentions.  That all our lives may be sanctified in the truth, let us pray to the Lord.  We pray that your Church may be committed to the needs of the world, but never conformed to those worldly practices that fail to reveal your love and light.   We pray that those you have called to your service may be strong in the faith of Christ and given power to reveal his love.

Lord in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.

Be with all who must make decisions that will affect the lives of others.  Lord, give wisdom to those who appoint and elect others to positions of authority.    And, for all those who serve in authority in our country, the Prime minister, the queen, ministers of parliament, bishops and leaders in our church, inspire them to speak the truth and guide them with your Holy Spirit to seek the common good.

Lord in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.

Bless us, our families, friends and colleagues in our decision-making, both small and great, which we must make in our daily lives.  We also pray for godly wisdom in how to better love the beauty of your creation.  Show us how to do our part to make this world a better place for ourselves and others.  We ask you to transform us in your image and help us to become the people you have called us to be.

Lord in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.

Have mercy on any who have broken faith, betraying those who trusted them.  And, forgive us for all the times we’ve betrayed you by not trusting in you.  Restore all in your mercy to the life of love that has been forsaken and bring relief to those who have lost their direction through the distress of misplaced trust.

Lord in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.

We pray for all of those who have been victims of violence abroad, in our home country and in local communities. We pray especially for families who have had to deal with the heart break of losing loved ones because of anger and hate.   We ask you Lord to open the minds and hearts of those who show prejudice against them and we pray that we will not show prejudice against others.  We pray for godly wisdom that gives others both space and support, that encourages and guides, that knows when to speak and when to listen.  Help us to hear your still quiet voice, but also be stirred by the holy spirit to speak out against injustice and against the spirit of the enemy that would want to steal, kill, and destroy all that is around us.

Lord in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.

Grant to the faithful departed the eternal life promised through Jesus Christ.  May his saving love avail for those who have passed through this world and into the world beyond.  May they receive their eternal reward with you in Heaven.  We pray for the godly wisdom that sees time in the context of eternity, and death as the gateway to heaven in the presence of God.   Lord God bring comfort to those leaving this earth and give peace to those returning home to heaven.  We also remember the families who’ve lost people they love, give your peace to them and their upcoming funerals.  May those who have passed, be at rest and rise in your glory.  

Lord in your mercy All: Hear our prayer.

Wise and Holy God, we pray for your wisdom that encourages our hearts to live simply and thankfully, rejoicing in all that you are and all that you do.  Let us remember to love you in all things including the gift of life every day.  As our joy is made complete in Christ, we pray with confidence in his name, saying together…

All: Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your

Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Closing Worship

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