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Weekly worship: Sunday 9 September

Points for sermon preparation and prayer for the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

Christian Aid Harvest campaign - Aster with her Addis women's group

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: Genesis 2:4-7,15-24 Psalm 104:24-35 1 John 1:1-4 John 2:1-11)

Genesis 2:23 Then the man said: ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’

When it comes to who is most affected by poverty, climate change and discrimination, women and girls are at the top of the list. If we are ever to renew the world as God created it, to provide for everyone’s welfare and wellbeing, then tackling gender injustice is crucial. That’s why the Harvest Appeal focuses particularly on the lives of women, because their empowerment will lift the whole community out of poverty.

Of the Same Flesh’ is Christian Aid’s theological report on gender justice. It recognises that the Genesis stories can be read in a way that reinforces gender injustice. But it advocates that being of ‘the same flesh’ reminds us that humanity is one and we share a common destiny that can only be secured when discrimination is ended.

John 2:4 ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?’

From Cain onwards, the scriptures reflect the resistance that exists to God’s will for creation, where all life and all people are interdependent. ‘Am I my brother's keeper?’ (Genesis 4:9) captures the voice in us all that would prefer not to have to worry about the wellbeing of others and focus on ourselves.

Challenging that innate selfishness and inspiring solidarity is at the very heart of Jesus’ vision of the kingdom of God. In this passage from John’s Gospel, the one who highlights the need is Mary, and it is Jesus who seems to resist action. In a conversation reminiscent of a parable Jesus will tell about an unjust judge and a persistent widow, it seems that even Jesus needs to be summoned to act. The result, of course, is an extraordinary act of transformation and an outrageous overflowing of generosity. Here the nature of God’s abundance is revealed in a feast where all have what they need and more besides.

In the lives of the women in our Harvest stories, we can hear that same challenge to recognise our responsibility for each other and stand in solidarity with one another.

Prayer

We give thanks for Mary, Joanna and Susanna,
names we barely recognise,
women who lived in a different time to ours,
who came together to support and provide
from their own resources.

They helped Jesus continue with his ministry,
proclaiming and bringing the good news,
so their community could 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

Give thanks for Christian Aid’s work in the Philippines. Pray for partners ICODE who helped families to build typhoon-resistant homes, using community saving schemes. Pray for all who are helping communities prepare for disasters and for protection for all who live at risk of typhoons, earthquakes, rising sea levels and extreme climate conditions in the Philippines.

Give thanks for all that the Big Shift campaign has achieved so far and pray for the next stage, calling on HSBC to shift investments from fossil fuels.

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