Welcome, Cheviot churches and also those joining us from elsewhere. We worship together on this Christian Aid Sunday
Call to Worship (from Amazon area)
Come and celebrate our common home
we gather with the family of humanity.
With the mountains, islands and deserts
we honour the glory of God in creation.
With the lakes, rivers and seas
we come to the source of living water.
With the land, its soil, seeds and sustenance
we give thanks for God’s generous provision.
With the forests of great trees, the lungs of the planet
we will sing with joy and clap our hands.
We join with the whole of creation, inspired by those who have gone before and the prophetic voices of today.
We dare to praise and pray for another possible world.
To the glory of God Amen
Hymn 172 – Sing for God’s glory
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
As we look around at our beautiful Border countryside bursting with new life, we sometimes fail to see the desecration of pollution, the carelessly discarded plastic bottles and crisp packets, the wasted food; forgive us for our lack of care and our selfishness and short-term behaviour.
As we celebrate the joy of human love and we look towards being with friends and family and welcoming them with loving arms, forgive us for forgetting those who circumstances prevent such reunions; those separated by bereavement, by forced migration, by natural disasters and failure of crops, help us remember that some of this is caused by our behaviour and forgive us our unintended actions.
God you know us and know that we can be loving and kind but that we often get things wrong. Forgive when we hurt others and when we fail to care for your world. May Jesus bless us and God’s spirit help to grow in love.
Readings – Acts 10: 44-48
Hymn Sea Shanty (Yetholm) / 798 – May the peace of the earth (Morebattle)
There was a farmer on the land
hoping we could make a stand.
The rains hadn’t come and the crops were dead;
You can’t farm land like this. No!
Soon may the fossil fuels go
for they pollute the land you know.
Let’s invest in solar and wind
and buy climate justice for all.
Climate change is making life hard
for those whose livelihoods are marred
by erratic rain or howling gale.
You can’t farm land like this. No!
Faithful God, your son Jesus said “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” In our worship today, we testify to God’s love shown perfectly in Christ and we re-commit ourselves to love one another as a community of faith by the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. Amen
Those who live in Yetholm will be aware of the work that has been going on to alter the course of the Bowmont Water. The water has over the years eroded the ground and, if not checked, would have threatened to bridge and road between the two villages. It shows the often-devastating power of water.
Today is Christian Aid Sunday and for 75 years Christian Aid has been responding to crises and seeking to empower the marginalised. They now work in 26 countries, but today we focus on only one of them, Kenya, where water, or the lack of it, has become an issue. We need only to read our bibles to know that floods (Noah) and droughts (Ruth and Naomi) have always been with us. However, in recent years we have seen extremes in weather all over the world. Even snow and frost in May!
Rose knows about extremes in weather. Growing up, the rain came at the right time, and there was always enough to eat and drink. But now the rains are unreliable, and her part of Kenya is subject to drought. Crops wither and die. Rivers run dry, and people struggle to survive. In order to collect water for her family, Rose has to walk a long distance, often on an empty stomach. She dreams of having water close at hand to grow vegetables. If there was only a pool close at hand, that would give her and her grandchildren hope for the future.
In our Acts reading, Peter asks the question, ‘Can anyone withhold water?’. He is actually talking about water for baptism, but it is a relevant question when we think of Rose and those like her. Peter is in the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion. Peter has had a vision of a tablecloth full of the animals deemed to be taboo for Jews to eat, not kosher, yet a voice from heaven tells him to eat. At that moment, people come to his door inviting him to Cornelius’ home. As a Jew, Peter could not enter a Gentile’s house, but after the vision, he accepts the invitation. While there, the Holy Spirit falls upon everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, and that is when Peter asks the question ‘Who can withhold water to baptise?’, for the Holy Spirit has already taken the initiative.
Rose has her troubles, but Florence on the other hand is so cheerful. She is a larger-than-life character, who is smiling and singing. I am sure that she has her hardships too, for her husband died a few years ago, but she is a survivor. Like Rose, she too had to walk for miles to collect water for her family, but fortunately Christian Aid and its partners helped Florence’s community to build a dam, so that water is now on their doorstep, allowing their vegetables to grow and be sold at the market. She grows tomatoes and onion, but also keeps bees, so sells honey. No wonder she is full of joy and laughter. Her children have a future.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus is saying farewell to his disciples and telling them to abide in him and his love, and in verse 11, he says ‘I have said these things so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete’. He was facing the horror and pain of Good Friday and crucifixion, yet talked of joy. He was facing the silence of Holy Saturday, but believed that Easter Sunday would come. There is always hope.
As Christians we believe that there is hope and that everyone is entitled to life in all its fullness in the here and now. We thank God for the work of Christian Aid over the past 75 years, but continue to work and give and pray that people like Rose may have water nearby and, like Florence, have a smile on her face and hope for the future.
Hymn – Canticle of the Turning
1. My soul cries out with a joyful shout
that the God of my heart is great,
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things
that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight,
and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!
3. From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
ev’ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, ev’ry mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Generous God, bless our offering of worship and the gifts of talent and money that we share. Bless those who will go out into our community this week with the red envelopes and may the money that will be given this week in support of our disadvantaged neighbours around the world be doubly blessed in the service of your kingdom.
Merciful God, as we think of our communities and family and friends farther afield we are mindful of the suffering caused by the Covid virus around the world. Our hearts go out to the people of India and to all those places where facilities and equipment are lacking and it is a struggle to treat and care for all the sick. Give all those involved the strength and courage to prevail. Comfort those who mourn for they are many and often do so alone.
Help us to be an encouragement and support to our young people as they face an evermore uncertain future but do so in hope and expectation of a better, fairer world.
Give determination for those striving for the health of our planet and the well being of all your children. May those who hold the power be given a listening ear and act with wisdom and compassion.
We would see the lusts for power and of greed banished that all may live a meaningful life in harmony and peace, rejoicing in our individuality and unique talents knowing we are loved by you.
This we ask n the name of the Prince of Peace, Your Son Jesus Christ.
The Christian Aid week prayer (from Kenya)
Who makes the sun to rise, and opens the heavens,
Hear the cry of the people who sow in hope for rain but reap only in despair.
Hear the cry of the people seeking shelter from the storm, their hopes and homes submerged’
Hear the cry of the people when creation is hitting back, with rage and resistance.
Give us hope, grant us salvation,
Give us a new relationship with creation with reverence to tend this gift from you and say once again of the earth and all you created, it is GOOD. Amen
Hymn 804 – You shall go out with joy
May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow. May the soft winds freshen your spirit. May the sunshine brighten your heart. May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you and may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.