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Weekly worship: Sunday 23 September

Points for sermons and prayers for the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

Hand holding grains of Kilombero rice, grown as part of a value chain project in Malawi

Weekly worship: Sunday 23 September

This month we deviate from the Revised Common Lectionary to mark Creation Time. You can read more about Creation Time here.

The weekly pointers this month are based on the Creation Time Lectionary (CTL). This lectionary was produced for use in the Church of England parishes of Pilton, Croscombe, North Wootton and Dinder in the Diocese of Bath and Wells. It is used with permission.

CTL Year B: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Psalm 98 Romans 8:14-25 Mark 4:26-30

Romans 8:25 ‘But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it in patience.’

Why are we waiting? Following the death of Jesus, the new Christian communities might have expected they would see the transformation of the world that Jesus had proclaimed. However, it must have become clear, especially to the community in Rome, that this wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.

In his letter to the community, Paul explores the scale of the change that is to come. Because all life and all things are so intimately connected, no part can be fully whole until the whole creation is transformed. Everything is linked by the Spirit of God that created all things. It’s that same Spirit that resonates within us and prompts our hope of change. It’s that same Spirit that summons us to join the process of healing, mending and repairing creation. Only as that movement gathers pace can real change happen.

The actions we take in solidarity with others are small but vital steps in that process. In that solidarity for justice we join the godly presence and the mission of the Spirit.

Mark 4:26-27 ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground… the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.’

The transformation of a small, dry seed into a vibrant, green plant is amazing. The process even now seems beautifully mysterious. Without this transformation, there is no food for the community and no seed for the next sowing season. It is literally the difference between life and death.

Communities such as Aster’s in Ethiopia are vulnerable to climate change. At the same time, the ingenuity and creativity of her solar shop business shows that life can sprout in the most unpromising contexts. By developing more than one source of income, and using solar energy, Aster and her sisters are helping to tackle climate change.

The growth of the seed depends on a complex ecology of soil, climate and human intervention. It symbolises the extraordinary way in which we find ourselves dependent on one another, not only in our local community but in our global community too. There are so many vital connections necessary to secure life that the complexity is too great to capture. Jesus compares the kingdom to the seed. Our actions, and those of the women in our Harvest stories, may seem small and vulnerable but there is a powerful direction of travel that God has set. Justice is coming as our individual actions take root and bring change.

Prayer

We give thanks for Aster and the women in Ethiopia,
women who live in a different place to ours,
who come together to support and provide
from their own resources.

Savings schemes
to make dreams possible,
loans to cover medical bills,
renewable energy solutions,
so their community can grow and thrive.

May they be an example for us.

Amen.

Prayer taken from the Harvest Appeal resources; more harvest resources can be found here.

Points for prayer

Praise God for all volunteers who provide basic healthcare for children under five in their community in Benue State, Nigeria.

Before the health volunteers, children who were sick in this community had to travel with their parents for hours to get to the nearest health centre.

Pray for our partner Ohonyeta Caregivers, as they train volunteers across 130 communities as part of the Partnership for Integrated Child Health project, known as PICH. The project is funded by UK Aid Match and has so far helped treat over 45,500 children – praise God!

Points for prayer are taken from the prayer diary. You can read the prayer diary in full here