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Weekly worship: Sunday 10 September

Syrian refugee family

Armoured with light

Exodus 12:1-14     Romans 13:8-14

Lights are all around us- in our rooms, cars, roads, and phones. We crave the illumination that brightness brings – when clarity is restored and when we can see to get things done. However, what happens when the darkness cannot be eradicated with the flick of a switch? When it is a darkness caused by oppression and injustice.

What do we do then?

We look to God, who is not a stranger to darkness, but who knows how to respond to it perfectly and provides us with guidance to do the same.

In Exodus, we read that God’s people lived under the oppression of the Egyptian King – Pharaoh. God sent Moses to rescue them, however by the time we get to chapter 12, there has been nine plagues sent by God, all bringing great destruction– and still the Israelites are kept captive. The final plague was the massacre of all firstborn children in Egypt. Prior to this plague, God instructs his people to kill a lamb and cover their doorposts with its blood – a sign that would protect them from the plague. They did so and this led to the survival of their children and very shortly after- their freedom from Egypt.

So often, when we cannot see the avenue to bring about complete break-through in our dark world – we may feel overwhelmed to act at all. The Israelites were not so. They were obedient to God, not knowing that victory would be so soon, yet trusting in God’s faithfulness. Their seemingly small acts of obedience, of marking their doorposts – were a stepping stone which led to protection and in time, freedom. Their obedience didn’t come from trusting in what they could see around them, as Egypt was plummeting into further ruin – but trusting in what God would do through their obedience. Imagine if in the bleak face of injustice, we did as the Israelites did – we obeyed and acted upon God’s commands even if we don’t fully understand why.

In Romans, Paul writes that all the commandments can be summed up in this word, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” As we live our lives, there will be times where we will be able to see how this principle will bring about great breakthrough. However, there will also be times when we are tempted to disregard this and prioritise ourselves at the expense of others – rather than live sacrificially to benefit others. When we’ll be tempted to think that our obedience makes no difference to the darkness around us. That is when we must remember that we’re called to obey – trusting that God will use our acts of obedience, as a stepping stone to bring about light.

So as we see the darkness of injustice in our world – let us face it like the Israelites did. Who in their darkness trusted in God’s word to them and obeyed. To genuinely love our neighbours as we love ourselves, is to be obedient to God’s word and act accordingly.

For several years, Christian Aid has put this command to love our neighbours as ourselves into practical action in our response to the movement of people to seek refuge. You can find resources, campaigns and prayers to help you and your church community respond likewise on our Refugee crisis appeal page.

Loving God,
Forgive us when our view of darkness
prevents us from taking action.
Forgive us when we disregard your word
and the instructions to act.
Help us to be radically transformed
so that we love others as we love ourselves
and to obey you, even when we can’t see what our obedience will bring.
Enable and protect us with the armour light
to face and illuminate the gloom that oppresses and denies life
that you are at work in the darkness of injustice.
May your will be done on earth as in heaven.

This week's pointers for sermon was provided by Sophie Boyd, a theology student at Union Theological College, Belfast.

Points for prayer
  • Give thanks for the many Harvest thanksgiving services happening across the country.
  • Pray for a generous response to Christian Aid’s Harvest Appeal which will help farmers earn life-changing money from their crops in Malawi, bringing abundant life closer. Get resources for your church service at and share photos of your fundraising on social media using #peasbewithyou.
  • Give thanks and pray for all the Christian Aid runners taking part in the Great North Run on 10 September.
  • Pray for the UN General Assembly starting on the 12 September and for the ongoing work to establish new agreements on refugees and migration.
  • Pray that any agreements will bring hope to displaced people.
  • Pray for safe and successful fundraising events in Ireland, such as the Sheep’s Head Hike in County Cork and the Strangford Sportive cycle event in County Down.

God of all blessings,
we give you thanks:
for the breath that sustains,
for the food of this earth,
for the love of family and friends,
without which there would be no life.

Published on 10 September 2017

Resource language
Themes – Areas of work
  • Humanitarian
  • Refugees and internally displaced people
  • Global
  • Middle East
  • Iraq
  • Middle East
  • Syria