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Weekly worship: Sunday 17 September

Burundi landscape

God always prevails

Genesis 50:15-21                               Matthew 18:21-35

Daily we’re confronted with new headlines and statistics that make our hearts plummet, as we gaze out on a world filled with so much suffering. We can be tempted to think that the evil we see is the end of the story – that there is no hope. But this is radically turned on its head when we look to the God of the Bible, because there we see a rescuing God and a God that always triumphs over evil.

In Genesis, we find the story of Joseph a man thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery by his brothers out of jealousy. By the end of Genesis, it is the brothers who are scheming to ensure they have Joseph’s forgiveness and it is Joseph who holds the power and esteemed position. It is at this point that Joseph says to the brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good”. God’s plans and purposes had prevailed over the evil intentions of the brothers.  

Joseph was the living, testifying example that God is able to act through the evil we see around us, and bring about good. Joseph had trusted God when he was imprisoned and it had been God that had ultimately rescued him from his pit of suffering. How do we react when we see the Joseph’s in our world today-those people who have been dealt the horrifying hand of injustice and suffer the consequences every day?
Firstly, we must remember that no situation is without hope –God is always working out his good purposes in the world. Joseph’s situation would have been regarded as ‘hopeless’ – but God’s power brought a great triumph of justice, which means that we should never be idle in the face of suffering, but instead act. God acts in the face of injustice, and so should we. This could be from committing to pray, giving financially, or giving our time.   

This month Christian Aid invites you to take part in the Big Shift, a campaign seeking justice for those at the sharp end of climate change, for those suffering the most yet have done the least to cause the problem. Climate change can seem like one of those insurmountable problems but we worship a God who gives us hope that things can be different. Find out more about how to give your time and energy

In the gospel reading we hear a teaching on being merciful to those around us, in light of how much mercy we have been shown.  This parable specifically relates to forgiveness and how, we must forgive, as God has forgiven us. However, it teaches a fundamental point of the Christian faith- how God treats us, should affect how we treat those around us. Hence, since God has been so gracious, generous and loving to us – in sending his only Son to die for our sins - should we not endeavor to show the same radical love too? A love, which is sacrificial and acts not out of reciprocation but genuine care. When we see those who are in the grip of suffering – do we turn a blind eye or do we instead decide to make sacrifices to meet their need? In light of this, we should be stirred to always act – knowing that our efforts are never in vein but trust that God’s will prevail over injustice.

Loving God,
We ask for forgiveness when we doubt your presence at work in our world.
We ask for forgiveness when we neglect to act in the face of injustice.
Fill us with hope in you anew.
Help us to be sacrificial to meet the needs of others in our world
and in doing so find our own healing and needs being met
We thank you that you have shown us so much mercy and care
by sending your son to this world you made and love so much.
Let that shape our attitudes in response to a broken and beautiful world.

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

Pointers for prayer
  • Pray for Christian Aid’s partner in Burundi, World Outreach Initiatives (WOI), who work with faith and community leaders to help improve health and family planning.
  • Regina Ndereyimana, was trained in general health, HIV and family planning by WOI. She now shares her knowledge with her community. Regina also received a loan, and training in new ways to earn money. She helps her neighbours and she’s hopeful: ‘I tell them, don’t be afraid of HIV, stay courageous. We are HIV positive and we are still living.’
  • Pray also for Christian Aid partner the World Young Women’s Christian Association, who work to amplify the voices of young women from all over the world, helping them to have an influence on global decision-making and to strengthen the ecumenical movement for gender justice.
  • Pray for those taking part in the Richmond Park Sponsored Walk on 23 September. Ask that the walk will build awareness of world poverty.

God, thank you for the world changing
organisations that Christian Aid
partners with.
May we all love the world so much
that we give sacrificially.

Sunday 24 September

Resource language
  • Global
Themes – Areas of work
  • Climate change