Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this Climate Sunday.
The earth does not belong to us
We belong to the earth
All things are connected and interdependent
Like the blood that unites a family
We did not weave the web of life
We are merely a strand in it
Whatever we do to the web
We do it to ourselves and our descendants
Let us give thanks for God’s gift of creation
That all things are held together by Christ.
Hymn 147 – All creatures of our God and King (1,4,7)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Creator God, maker of colour, sound, texture, movement, and the ceaseless beauty in living things, we bless you.
Creator God, maker of granite and mustard seed, of grey cloud and starlight, of earthquake and heartbeat, we bless you.
Creator God, maker of all that is unseen, of all that has been, of all that words could never capture,
we bless you.
Creator God, we, the children of your love, the beneficiaries of your kindness, the guardians of your creation, bless you. We bless you for your making, your trusting, your loving, your never-ending goodness.
Loving God, in Jesus you stepped up to the line, bit the bullet, owned the problem. Walk beside us as we seek to accept the evidence that the earth is under threat. Share our pain for the way we have avoided the truth and ignored the signs, and free us from the guilt that binds us.
Walk beside us as we seek to accept our part in damaging the earth and as we struggle to change our lives. Share our pain for what has not been done through fear and weakness, and free us from the guilt that binds us.
God of good Earth, who offers forgiveness. Show us our place and purpose as your creatures here on earth.
Readings – Proverbs 22: 1-2, 8-9, 22-23
Mark 7: 24-37
Hymn 155 – Think of a world (1,3)
Creator God, we are mindful of your creation and our place in it to protect the environment in which we live. Help us to be generous in all we do, remembering especially the poor in our unequal world. We have been reminded that when Jesus came, he was able to make the deaf hear and the mute speak while casting out evil spirits. We especially pray for any we know who need specialist care to help them live fulfilled lives. Amen
A month or so ago it was terrible flooding in Germany; a few weeks ago there was an earthquake in Haiti; this week Storm Idah has battered Louisiana causing destruction and misery. Earthquakes, flooding and storms have always been with us, but somehow they seem worse. More so because our own weather patterns seem to be changing with hotter, drier summers (apparently our reservoirs are only a third full!) and colder winters. All over the world we see extremes in weather. Meanwhile, a new island was discovered in Greenland, which would be exciting, except it means the ice is melting. We have been taking our earth for granted, stripping it of its resources, but now we have had a wake up call. The world governments did put measures into place at Paris in 2015, but in November in Glasgow the world will focus again on what can be done to save our planet, for time is running out.
In our Gospel reading today Jesus has been overwhelmed with work and takes a break, going into what is now southern Lebanon. He thinks he can get away from the constant demand on his time – but no luck. A local woman – Gentile, Syro-Phoenician she is called – comes to him, asking him to heal her daughter who was possessed by a demon. Maybe he should have just said ‘I am having a bad day; come back tomorrow’, but instead he said that he had come for the Jews first and seemed to use a slur, calling the woman and gentiles in general ‘dogs’ waiting for food to fall from the table. But the woman persisted; she refused to give up, and Jesus saw that she had a point and changed his mind. The girl was healed. He then returns to Galilee, but to the Decapolis, Greek towns in the south, where he heals a man who is deaf and mute.
Jesus had a fresh insight; he saw that God’s love embraced the Gentiles as well. With climate change, many of us have been changing our minds, being conscious of the need to do more. It isn’t a new thing; we have been conscious of the damage to our environment. The emissions from our factories and cars have been damaging the earth. But in a recent poll it seems that we are recycling more, that we are repairing or mending things rather than going out to buy something new. We are more conscious of our diets. We are trying to be more environmentally friendly and are learning to treat the earth gently and kindly. We have been given a fresh insight as well.
But the Syro-Phoenician woman also persisted. She was determined that the demons possessing her daughter would be cast out, making her well again. So we need to confront the ‘demons’ damaging our world, and that includes greed and over-consumption. Like the woman we need to persist in making a fairer and more equitable world. In Proverbs we read a good reputation is better than riches, and we are encouraged to share what we have with those less fortunate than ourselves. For God is the maker of rich and poor alike. We have to redouble our efforts and work together with all countries to care for our planet.
After his encounter with the woman, he healed the deaf and mute man, saying ‘Be opened’, and he could hear and he could speak. Our ears need to be open to what is going on in our world. We can’t keep them shut! We need to be aware of how we can be more responsible citizens of the world and what changes we need to make in our lifestyles to do so. We also need to let our tongues be loosened and speak out. We can write to our MP or sign a petition. We can be involved in greening our communities by adjusting how we live.
As Christians we are conscious that God made this wonderful earth and we have been given responsibility to care for it. It is in our Christian DNA to be kind and considerate, to be agents of hope. Let us therefore be good stewards of creation.
Hymn 1. Monarch and maker of all time and space,
sculptor of mountain and of desert place,
source and sustainer of both sea and land,
all that exists was crafted by your hand.
3. Help us as guardians of all life on earth
both to respect the world and prize its worth;
and, in deep gratitude for all you give,
turn greed to sharing so that all may live.
4. Glory to God to whom all praise is due,
glory to Jesus making all things new,
glory to God the Spirit, bold and bright,
who leads the world through darkness into light.
Words: John L. Bell, copyright © 2018 WGRG, Iona Community.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Thank you, God, for the colour of tomatoes and beetroot, for the different colours and shapes and fragrances of flowers, for grubby potatoes and funny-shaped carrots – for the goodness of the earth itself. Thank you, God, for the taste of apples from the tree – of brambles picked straight from the hedgerow; for the glossiness of conkers and acorns … Thank you, God, for the smell of baking cakes and real coffee. For the smell of woodsmoke and damp leaves; and for the lights of home on a dark evening. Thank you, God, for the kiss of a dog’s wet nose and for the purring contentedness of a cat. For all of these ordinary wonderful things – thank you, God. May we never forget to give thanks to you, Maker and Giver of all
God of all creation, we thank you form the world around us and for all who seek to preserve it. We give you thanks for agreements that safeguard the environment. We pray for those who seek to make this a reality, especially those following up on climate change agreements made in Paris in 2015. We pray for leaders who will gather in Glasgow for COP 26 and pray that you will give them a sense of urgency, a perception of necessity and the wisdom and will to secure the health and well-being of the world at whatever the cost to wealth, political advantage or prestige.
God of all creation, we remember those who are far from power. We pray for those vulnerable in the face of flood and drought, wind and weather, those vulnerable in the face of impersonal global markets, those crying out for help and justice in times of distress.
We continue to remember Afghanistan and those living in fear. Be with those who have managed to escape by plane or across the border. May they receive a welcome.
In a moment of silence we come, remembering all going through difficult times – the lonely, the sick and the bereaved.
We believe that this is God’s world. We believe that living gratefully and giving generously are marks of faith.
We believe that all of humanity should have equal access to the earth’s resources, and that every individual must now act to preserve this world so that the children of tomorrow will not be burdened by the mistakes of today. And so we commit ourselves to think globally, to trade fairly, to live responsibly, and to love this world as it is loved by God, who in Christ became one with creation. Amen.
Hymn 238 – Lord, bring the day to pass (1,2,4)
Now go in peace to enjoy the earth, and care for creation in partnership with God, who in Christ has honoured and blessed us. May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you, now and forevermore. Amen