Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
With wisdom and generosity,
God created us.
With grace and compassion,
Jesus embraces us.
With ideas and inspiration
The Holy Spirit transforms us.
Let us worship God.
Hymn 238 – Lord, bring the day to pass
maker of colour, sound, texture, movement,
and the ceaseless beauty in living things, we bless you.
maker of granite and mustard seed, of grey cloud and starlight, of earthquake and heartbeat, we bless you.
maker of all that is unseen, of all that has been,
of all that words could never capture, we bless you.
We, the children of your love,
the beneficiaries of your kindness,
the guardians of your creation, bless you.
God challenges us, God encourages us. God confronts us, and God accepts us. God forgives. God works wonders in our midst and gives us eyes, hearts, souls, to cherish life.
We are grateful, Creator God,
for all the benefits extracted from land and sea,
for all the people who have risked their lives for our comfort, our health, our wealth, our mobility.
Yet we confess before you our lack of care for the earth, our exploitation of its resources, our pollution of its rivers, our lack of foresight for the future:
Lord have mercy upon us.
Christ have mercy upon us.
Lord have mercy upon us
Help us to amend our ways and be good stewards of your creation.
Readings – Psalm 8 (pg 546)
Luke 19: 11-27 (pg 1053)
Hymn 181 – For the beauty of the earth
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! We thank you for your creation that surrounds us reminding us of our place in your plan, confident that all is safely in your hands. As we go out into the world, surrounded by your love and care, help us to be like the good servant in all that we do each day. Amen
You did good making this planet!
It’s beautiful, amazing –
from tiny wriggly things,
to trees and mountains,
and people of all races,
For the mess we make.
The whole me first,
humans are tops thing;
the rows, and the violence,
no feeling for being part
of something so much bigger.
We can’t see how to do it,
how to undo the mess we’ve made,
how to work together.
How to love your way,
earth and sea and human,
and how we fit together.
Find a gentle way,
give stuff up, take things on;
live a way of healing?
Reminds me now of Jesus,
his inclusive way of love.
The Wow moment ….and then the realisation that we need to do much better. We get the Wow factor when we watch programmes like David Attenborough’s Wild Isles. For those who haven’t seen it, it focuses on the nature and wildlife of the British isles and presents stunning photography of orcas and squirrels and wood ants and murmuration of starlings, while the backdrop of the hills and forests and water has encouraged a surge in holiday bookings. The photography is painstaking, as weeks, months, even years are spent to capture that one shot.
Of course, we have the Wow factor every day, living where we do, with hills changing colour, trees blossoming, plants growing, birds and pheasants and deer and some creepie crawlies as well. We are very fortunate. But we can never take it for granted, and our 5th mark of mission is to care for creation or, more fully, to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
We read Psalm 8, and we thrill at the majesty of God the creator, whose greatness can be seen in the wonder of the universe. We feel our insignificance as human beings in comparison with the rest of creation, but the psalmist affirms us as created in God’s image and who have been given the task, as mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis of looking after the earth, of being responsible for creation as good stewards. And that is where the Wow factor begins to fade, for we realise how far short we have fallen, what a mess we have made.
In an Attenborough programme, the world looks stunning, but he is very cutting in his appraisal, as he notes the tiny percentage of the land given over to forests, of habitat destroyed and species dying out. He poses the question whether we have left it too late.
In the parable of the talents, we read today, the master makes a journey and leaves his servants with a responsibility to look after his property and gives them so many coins. Against the odds he returns and summons the servants to give an account. One has invested the money and made ten times the amount, the next five times, but the third has dug a hole and hidden it, as he feared the master so much. He is condemned for failing to even put the money in the bank to earn interest. I always find this a difficult parable, as from an early age I sympathised with the third servant and still do today. He had obviously felt bullied and belittled by the master, and at least didn’t squander the money. But still he stands condemned. Does the master who becomes the king relate to Jesus, who at the end will ask to give an account of ourselves? There’s the rub. For the parable is about stewardship and how well we use the gifts we have for the kingdom and, in our context with our 5th mark of mission, how well we care for creation. Do we hide, not our money in the ground, but our heads in the sand? Are we fearful about climate change but do nothing about it, maybe because it doesn’t impact us to so great an extent? Yet the climate emergency is real, and the people who suffer most are those in countries in the Global South, who have done least to cause the damage to our world. In the Pacific with rising sea levels, in Mozambique with cyclones and rain causing chaos, in Pakistan with flooding or the Horn of Africa with drought, all of which are life threatening. Half the world’s population live in regions vulnerable to climate change.
The call to care for creation is not about appreciating the wonder of the world but making an effort to do something about it, as individuals, as a community and as a church. Yes, we are good now at recycling. We have become more frugal, better at mending clothes and shoes rather than buying something new. We have become more conscious of our carbon footprint but need to do far more. We are called to be more energy conscious, as we aim for a low carbon economy. We have been indiscriminate in plundering the resources of the earth; we need to care for the earth more gently and, conscious that Holy Week approaches, acknowledge our responsibilities as Christians, without the need for a reminder from a crowing cockerel!
Hymn 243 – Touch the earth lightly
We believe that this is God’s world
and all that lives on it;
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.
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
We place our gifts into your hands, O God. With the power of your Holy Spirit make them seeds of new life, springing up with hope and healing for weary souls. In Jesus’ name we pray.
You are the source of all that is, creating and sustaining every living thing. You are the source of all food, material and spiritual, nourishing us in both body and soul. You are the river of life for our thirst.
You love the world so much that you sent your only Son. May we be filled with your breath, nourished by your food, renewed by your living water and sustained by your love.
Creator God, we give thanks
that we have heard the Spirit of God in the freshening leaves and the rush of water.
So we pray for the creation which nourishes and sustains all that lives. Renew in us the sense of its value that we may not squander its riches, or so bend it to our will that we find we have destroyed it.
We pray for all whose experience of water is not of blessing but of curse; as the monsoon rains fall relentlessly from the skies, as rivers burst their banks, bridges are swept away and dams crumble,
as ice-caps melt and flash floods sweep down
carrying destruction over innumerable miles,
there is water everywhere, and none of it is clean.
We see thirst that can find only filthy water to drink,
waterborne and skin diseases, polluted with chemicals or rubbish.
We pray for all in the horn of Africa caught up in drought, seeing their crops shrivel before their eyes. We think of those in Malawi and Mozambique caught up in a cyclone with torrential rain. For Pacific islanders worried about their future, as their homes sink beneath the waves.
We pray for all who make important decisions about reducing greenhouse gases and being more ecologically friendly, that we may truly care for your creation.
As always, we continue to pray for an end to the pointless war in Ukraine: we pray for those who stand and fight to defend their homes, land and way of life. we pray for those who have lost loved ones and we pray for those who have died. When a solution seems so far away, when men with power intimidate and bully for their own gain, when normal lives are destroyed so pointlessly, when posturing and self-adulation seem to fill the headlines: God of peace, we do pray for Your loving peace to bring hope to this dreadful mess.
God of relationships: we bring to You those who are in fractured relationships, those who feel unsafe in their own homes, those who are excluded by the community they live in, those who have had to run for safety, those who find venturing out of the front door is just too much. We pray that You will be with them, and with us as we continue to live out your love.
We pray for the communities we belong to. We see the challenges, the pains, the aching sadnesses - and we also see the joys and opportunities. You created a community founded in love, help us to make communities that are more Jesus-shaped.
Loving God, we pray for ourselves and those we love. We also pray for those we struggle with – for those we avoid and cross the road so we don’t have to connect with. Loving God be with all of us – be in the challenges and the joys and give us Your peace. We are connected to so many people, locally and far away. In these moments of quietness, we offer to You our own private prayers for people and places needing your love. Transforming God, accept these and all of our prayers in the name of Jesus. Amen
Hymn 533 – Will you come and follow me
Now go in peace
to enjoy the earth,
and care for creation
in partnership with God.