Weekly worship: Sunday 5 August
A reflection on speaking truth to power.
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
There are a number of themes that can be explored from this passage in 2 Samuel in relation to injustice, inequality and poverty. The abuse of power, the use of stories to speak truth to power, the emphasis on Uriah’s death over Bathsheba’s mistreatment.
Nathan’s approach to calling David on his actions demonstrates the power of stories to challenge and change injustice. This example might inspire us to creative advocacy – an advocacy that might prioritise the rights of Bathsheba, and the many, many women she represents across the world who are subjected to sexual violence.
That Nathan chooses to frame his story as the power imbalance between a rich man and a poor man is perhaps the most obvious and direct link to Christian Aid’s work and gives us reason recognise that at heart poverty is an abuse of power.
Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
Bread, but not as you know it. What must that manna from heaven have tasted like?
It's described as a flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. How did the grumbling and tummy rumbling Israelites eat it? In bowls as porridge, or was it like flour that they could work up into scones?
Whatever it was, it was unrecognisable to the hungry Israelites and so gave it its name: Manna from ‘Manhue?’ the Hebrew for ‘What is it?’
They'd never seen bread like it, nor ever before received bread as a free gift that they couldn't control, predict, plan for, or own.
The meaning of this strange narrative is that the gifts of life are indeed given by a generous God.
It's a wonder, it's a miracle, it's an embarrassment, it's irrational, but God's abundance transcends the market economy.
It's an inspiring and impressive vision of, and exhortation to, community that we're given by Paul in this letter from prison.
These principles of:
- bearing with one another in love
- making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
transcend time and geography. They're made manifest in the respect and dignity everyone gives to each other, regardless of their role and gift.
They're the foundations of every form of community, and inherent in the equal value given to all of humanity – and central to Christian Aid’s work.
Christian Aid seeks to embody these principles of working together in community as a global partnership, and in celebrating its place as part of the ACT Alliance of agencies around the world.
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’
Jesus, the bread of life, the source of our sustenance.
How do these words sound to the many who hunger on a daily basis, and who thirst deeply for fresh water to drink?
To those who look to Jesus as the bread from heaven but who know the painful ache of hunger and thirst in their belly.
For the children of Yemen, those who hunger in East Africa, do these words from Jesus seem trite and hollow?
But even though those who were drawn to him had already been fed, they were hungry for more. This bread that Jesus speaks of is for another kind of hunger.
It is the hunger of us all who engage and work for another world. It is the hope we hold in the pits of our stomachs that no manna or wholegrain bread can fill. The hunger that inspires our work for the day when political wars that deny innocent civilians food will end.
To those who are hungry give food,
To those who are fed give a hunger for justice.
Points for prayer
- Pray for the work of Side By Side, the growing global movement of people of faith who want to see gender justice become a reality across the world, to be effective.
- Give thanks and pray for the effective work of the ACT Alliance, good news in action across the world.
- Pray for those suffering the pain of physical hunger in South Sudan, in Yemen and in other conflict-stricken hungry places across the world.
- Pray that the hunger for another world would inspire us all to work for another world, and a peaceable kingdom in fullness on earth.
- Give thanks for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August 2018.
- Pray for the protection and effectiveness of SOF, our partner empowering women in the indigenous Guarani and Quilombola communities in Sao Paulo state, Brazil.