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Weekly worship: Sunday 29 July

A reflection for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost.

Alok at work baking hundreds of bread rolls - Christian Aid

Alok at work baking hundreds of bread rolls in South Sudan. 'I built the oven myself' he says. 'If I didn't do that my children wouldn't survive and life would be tough.'

Old Testament

2 Samuel 11:1-15 and Psalm 14

If we choose to read this episode in 2 Samuel from the perspective of Bathsheba we enter into a reality that is all too familiar for many women today. The #MeToo movement has brought to light the abuse of power and authority in the many incidences of sexual misconduct.

Not only is Bathsheba raped by David (accordining to many biblical commentaries), and left pregnant with his child, but her husband is also maliciously killed. And far from Bathsheba being at fault, she was cleansing herself after her period as the law required, when David insisted in having her brought to him.

As we choose to read this with Bathsheba at the centre of the story, Christian Aid seeks to put gender justice at the centre of poverty. Women are disproportionately disadvantaged by climate change, conflict and inequality and women are subjected to traumatic sexual violence in societies across the world.

This week you might encourage your congregation to find out about the Thursdays in Black campaign and invite them to participate in it as an act of solidarity each Thursday.

New Testament

2 Kings 4:42-44 and John 6:1-21

In both the passages of 2 Kings and John 6 there is an intermediate character who is the rational, pragmatic voice. These 20 loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain will not feed one hundred people, the servant says to Elisha when being asked to feed the gathered men. Philip says not even six months’ wages would provide enough money to buy the bread needed to feed five thousand people.

Thank God for the pragmatists and realists in our world who help the dreamers fulfill their imaginings. It is these intermediate characters who do the work of distribution and gathering.

Let us give thanks for those who step forward to give of their time and resource that allows the miracle of sharing and gathering to happen so all may have more than enough. This is the work of Christian Aid supporters and partners on a daily and weekly basis.

Ephesians 3:14-21

Paul’s prayer is one that is unlimited by time or location. It is a prayer for what fuels and inspires us to be the people of God in the world. Bombarded with newspaper headlines about conflict, political upheaval and tragedy after tragedy, Paul’s words beckon us to a place of prayer and contemplation.

Pray that we too might be strengthened in our inner being, to be rooted and grounded in love, to begin to comprehend the breadth, length, height and depth and to know the love of God that surpasses knowledge.

That in the place of prayer and contemplation we might be filled with the fullness of God. And then from that place to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine in the world. May all our activism, our giving and our praying be from this place alone, so help us, God.

Prayer

Fill us, O God,
with the fullness of you that we can contain.
Strengthen us in our inner being by your Spirit,
root us and ground us in your love
beyond anything we might begin to comprehend
and only let us serve you from this place of prayer

so that we might be your overflowing vessels of love in the world. 
Amen.

Pointers for prayer

Pray for those who are living with chronic hunger. Pray for us all to have generous hearts and lives to ensure all have enough and none go without.

Pray that economic systems would not regard food as a commodity but for a good to be available and affordable for all. Pray for political structures that prevent families being able to access nutritious food may change.

Continue to pray for all those seeking refuge from conflict. Download our prayer diary and pray for all those who are forced to flee their homes.