Materials for Worship on May 22nd, 2022

Nerys writes: It is most appropriate that Christian Aid Week usually falls within the Season of Easter, a time of great hope and promise. Our materials today are based on resources provided by Christian Aid.

The Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible, gives us not only hope for the future, but also a vision of how God wants our world to be. It was written when the Roman Empire was seeking more and more political and economic power, and to obtain it, the Romans demand that their own emperors and traditional gods are worshipped by the people of all the lands conquered by them. John the Apostle, however, is providing another way. The scenes he describes gave encouragement to the early churches to directly challenge the powers that would suppress the Kingdom of God which is here and yet to come. John’s vision also challenges us today to not accept the global empire of our time but to seek a ‘new heaven and new earth.’

In today’s reading, Revelation 21. 10, 22-22.5, John sees God and Jesus form the Temple in the new Jerusalem, and they are the light of the world. John sees the river of the water of life flowing clear and bright like crystal, and the tree of life bearing leaves and fruit that will bring healing to all nations. Together the tree, water and light give life to all things.
When we are running short of hope or confidence, especially as we think of the unrelenting fight for climate justice and other world issues, we are invited to lift our gaze to see the world God intended, and to be strengthened by God’s Holy Spirit to help to bring it to pass.

Here is Janet Zirugo at her homestead in Njani village, Zimbabwe.

What makes you smile? For Janet, it’s seeing her grandchildren’s faces light up as she hugs them tight. Janet has a big heart. Many of the children in her family are orphans, and she is their sole provider. ‘In my family, children look up to me and I must give them food. I am more than glad to share what I have,’ she says. In her village in Zimbabwe, Janet has seen how drought pushed her family into desperate hunger. ‘One year, there was so little food. Rains had not fallen. We ate things which we wouldn’t eat in normal times. My heart was so painful thinking that my family would die. By God’s grace we did not die. We soldiered on.’ With faith, hope and love, Janet brought her family through this painful time. Thanks to a local project supported by Christian Aid she was given drought-resistant seeds that can grow in this harsh climate. You’ll be happy to know her farm is now bursting with life. In the photo below, she proudly shows the food she has grown – bowls full of groundnuts, wild fruit, golden corn; a rainbow of colour. Now, she is strong and resilient. With all her strength, she works on her farm so her family will never again go hungry. She has built a storeroom to keep her harvest safe and secure, to help her bounce back in future droughts. She knows when changes are coming and can adapt before crisis hits. ‘My life is changing,’ she says. ‘This project is lifting us up. We are thankful. It makes me happy to see my family are strong and well fed.’ As she reflects on how her life has changed, Janet sings with joy. We rejoice with her.

The river of the water of life is a particularly poignant and evocative image as we reflect on the devastation of drought in Zimbabwe and other African countries this Christian Aid Week. Pray that a day will come when no one hungers or thirsts anymore.
The leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations provide us with powerful imagery of the healing of the earth’s environment. Pray for all communities affected by drought, flooding or erosion caused by Climate Change.
The abundant fruitfulness of the tree of life provides a perpetual harvest that sustains all those who are hungry to provide for others. Pray for all involved in the work of Christian Aid and other relief charities across the world.
John’s vision also reminds us that all human beings are made in the image of God and all of creation carries God’s signature. We all belong to God and to each other, a family in partnership, all standing in the light of the glory of God. Pray that a day will come when world leaders and all those in positions of power will work together for justice and peace.