Sunday Worship, 9 May 2021

6th Sunday of Easter

Welcome

Welcome and let us worship God. Our service draws on material produced by Christian Aid on the theme of Climate Justice, linking in with this year’s Cop26 conference in Glasgow

‘I shall run the course made known in your commandments, for you set free my heart.’

Psalm 119: 32

Hymn             257 Singing we gladly worship the Lord together                                                        

Opening Prayer       

God of all creation,

we come, together or apart,

longing to meet with you

to be refreshed and restored,

by the spring of living water,

by the source of all life.

In your mercy, meet with us here.

Spirit of God who hovered over the waters,

harness your power in us

to live faithfully and in harmony

with the rhythms of righteousness,

for the restoration of creation

and the glory of your name.

we pray for transformation

of hearts and minds,

for the stones of indifference

to become hearts of compassion,

for the stones of anxiety

to become hearts of hope.

from the tree of the garden of Eden,

to the tree in the city in Revelation,

we thank you for your vision

of creation healed.

Help us to be your agents of restoration,

tending to the beauty of the Earth,

and enabling your healing of the nations.

O God of our salvation,

you are the hope of all the ends of the Earth

and of the farthest seas.

By your strength you established the mountains,

you are girded with might.

You silence the thundering seas,

the roaring of the waves,

the tumult of the peoples.

Those who live at Earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;

you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

Help us to add our voice

to creation’s praise and

to shout for climate justice.

Through Christ our Lord we pray Amen

Reading         John 15: 9-17

Hymn             532 Lord you have come to the seashore

Reflection      A river of prayer

The symbol of a river flows throughout this reflection and later our prayers for others. It is inspired by the words of the Old Testament prophet Amos, speaking out against the suffering and oppression caused by injustice:

‘Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’ (Amos 5:24)

We follow in his footsteps when we choose to raise our voices against the climate crisis. Every day, people living in poverty are battling a crisis they did not create. It is unjust.

Source

The source of the river motivates, sustains and inspires us to raise our prophetic voices for climate justice for people like Rose in Kenya. She is in her elderly years now, and every day walks for hours (far more than she used to have to, because of drought) and carries heavy water jars on her return. She feels wearied by the journey and hungry from a lack of food. Her feet are worn by all that walking, though she has barely a carbon footprint. We come to the source of the water of life, to dwell in the presence of God in prayer.

Upper Course

The river flows fast in the upper stages of its journey. It is full of vigour. Waterfalls cascade, rapids rumble over rocks, valleys are sculpted by erosion. There is so much energy to be harnessed.  This is the energy with which we hear the fervent words of the Prophet Amos. How does righteousness flow like a never-failing stream? What is the right thing to do?

The power of water leads us to consider renewable solutions to the climate crisis. Hydropower could be a good alternative to carbon-emitting fossil fuels, if done in the right way. Yet, large hydro dams can often come at the cost of indigenous communities, and the land that they have lived on for generations and regard as sacred. Large hydro dams can demand the sacrifice of large swathes of ancient forests and lead to the devastation of fragile ecosystems.

In Guatemala, Central America, indigenous communities have resisted the construction of large hydro dams which have been built on their land without their consent. Christian Aid’s partner has supported this struggle, but has also supported the establishment of micro hydro dams in communities in the north of the country. Micro hydro projects have been widely accepted by the communities as they enable basic energy access without killing rivers or flooding forests.

Middle Course

The river gets larger as it is joined by tributaries. The streams of water join forces to bring even greater transformation to the landscape. The river becomes an even greater agent of change.

In Kenya, Florence (pictured with her nephew) has become an agent of change in her community. She has drawn her community together to bring about much-needed transformation. With help from Christian Aid, she and her community have built a different kind of dam from the hydro dams in Guatemala. It is one that stores rainwater, creating a long-lasting source of water to help the community survive the climate crisis. This water supply has transformed their lives.

Now Florence uses the water to grow tomatoes, onions and chillies on her farm. With this dam, her children can eat healthy, nutritious vegetables. She also uses water from the dam to keep honey bees, and sells the honey for cash at the market. She is reaping a good life for herself and her family. ‘I have been sustained by the earth dam,’ she says. ‘My life has changed. I am very happy. You can see on my face: my face is shining. I have strength and power.’

Lower Course

The river is now wide and carries a lot of silt and stones, particularly when in spate from much rainfall. The surrounding land can be very fertile but also prone to flooding.

The rivers of Bangladesh are laced across the country, providing much-needed silt for soil fertility, yet the silt can often cause rivers to flood. As well as rivers flooding, the country is vulnerable to tidal surges which can flood entire villages. This is happening more and more frequently as typhoons bombard the coastline.

People are defending themselves by building ‘protection dams’ to capture the flood water and protect their community. These dams work even better when they’re combined with a large, healthy buffer of mangrove forest, plants and trees to stabilise them. The roots of the trees hold soil together, prevent the silting of rivers and subsequent flooding, and the leaves absorb carbon dioxide.

That is why, in Bangladesh, Kenya and many Christian Aid programmes around the world people are helped to plant trees. ‘When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope.’ (a Kenyan climate activist.)

Mouth

As we reach the mouth of the river, it arrives at its destination, flowing into the fullness of lake/loch, estuary, sea or ocean. It lays down the load it has been carrying as its energy is expended.

All around the world, young people are leading communities in the call for climate justice, to speak out and expend their energy for the restoration of creation.

Glory experienced the terror and fury of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. She encourages us all to get involved: ‘My message for the world is that we need to be responsible. We should be concerned about protecting our surroundings because they have been created for us. We have the wisdom to know what is right and what is wrong.’

Prayers for others

Lord

At the start of this Christian Aid Week:

refresh us when we become weary of the suffering in the world.

replenish us with whatever we need to live faithfully with creation.

renew our resolve to take action in the face of climate breakdown.

We pray

 that the voices of indigenous communities may be heard and heeded as we learn how to live in harmony with nature.

for a rapid and just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

for a radical change of heart for politicians

that as a global community we will care for our common home and for people living in poverty, where the right thing is done in the right way.

for unity between world leaders on the need to take action for climate justice.

that hearts inclined to self-interest and indifference to the suffering of others will be transformed.

for whatever transformation is needed in our own hearts as we respond to the climate crisis.

that the planting of trees would become an international priority and nature would be given space to flourish for the good of all creation.

for protection for the forests of the Earth and for the end to the burning of the Amazon rainforest.

for the vision of creation healed to inspire us all to do what we can to be part of that healing process.

for courage and wisdom to lift our voices in the cause of climate justice.

for young people to continue to be supported, empowered and listened to as a prophetic voice for climate justice.

for all those living at the sharp edge of climate injustice to have the resources they need to prepare and be protected from the climate crisis.

we pray for all who are ill,

those who look after them

 and those who worry about them

those waiting for or receiving treatment

 and those for whom there is no treatment

those who are lonely, feeling down, or grieving a friend or loved one

those who are worried about home, work or money

 a friend or a relative

those who are living with the after-effects of natural disasters

those who do not have enough to eat, or somewhere to call home

those who long to live in peace and safety

those who have fled from their homes seeking safety

We pray for the Queen, the Government

 all in positions of leadership in this and every land

 for those who have elected last week, and those who have not

We pray for you church

 the worldwide church

 the wider church in Dumbarton

 our own congregation

help us always to be faithful to Jesus our Lord

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

Hymn             692 Jesus put this song into our hearts

Blessing

Let justice roll down like a river,

may righteousness flow like a never-ending stream

and may the joy of creation fill you anew

as you pray, act and give for

the restoration of creation

and the flourishing of all people.

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