Materials for Worship on the Fourth Sunday of the Season of Creation

Nerys writes:  As you prepare for worship today, I invite you to take a moment to look back at a crisis in your life. It may have been a health scare or a bereavement, a falling out among  family or friends, difficulty at work or something else. I wonder how you responded?

The Letter of James was written in troubled times, giving advice to members of the early Christian church who were suffering from struggles from within and pressures from without. It is known as the most practical of the epistles and yet in its final section which is set for today, James 5.13-20, the emphasis is on prayer. Whatever the crisis, James calls on his readers to take their concerns for themselves or for others to God, Prayer is a powerful weapon which enables us to do God’s work of bringing  forgiveness and healing, reconciliation and renewal to the world. But with power comes responsibility, something which Jesus warns his squabbling disciples about in the harshest and most shocking way in our Gospel passage, Mark 9.38-50.

We have a responsibility not to keep the power of prayer to ourselves or to obstruct the path of others to God. We have a responsibility also to ourselves to look out for things in our lives that are causing us to stumble and to make changes so that we can be like salt, preserving and enhancing the lives of others. Take a moment now to reflect on this and take your thoughts to our loving and merciful God in prayer.

We are approaching the end of the Season of Creation, a time when we’ve been focusing on our response to the crisis which is facing our planet. Vestry has put together an Action Plan to ensure that concern for the environment is woven through every aspect of our life as a church. Just as in the Letter of James, the emphasis is not on practical matters only, but also on  our spiritual living and on the way we can influence others for good. I would encourage you, when you get your copy of the church magazine, to set aside some time to read the plan,  to consider how you could get involved through prayer and/or action and to share any thoughts and ideas that come to you with me or a member of Vestry. I would invite you also to join me in considering any changes that we need to make in our own individual lives as we look at the world through God’s eyes so that we alleviate the suffering of those worst affected by Climate Change today and lessen the burden on generations to come.

‘The Tree of Life’ by John Coburn

As you read the following intercessions prepared for this week’s 10.30 service by Lee Emery, please add your own prayers and intentions.

Loving God, Creator of all things, we recognize more than ever in this Season of Creation our shortcomings as stewards of our beautiful planet.  We pray that you help us to have the courage, diligence and wherewithal to make amends and to help give our support to positive and bold environmental changes wherever they are occurring.  Help us to see and implement the necessary changes we need to make in our own lives, homes, and communities to slow the adverse effects of climate change.  We especially ask for assistance to those living in areas that are, and will be, most harmed by the climate crisis.

We ask for your presence in meetings when and wherever world, national and civic leaders in authority convene, not only to develop policy and action around fighting climate change, but also in helping to make the world a more just and humane place.  Help us to find, for those who arrive on our shores in great need of a safe haven, protection and sustenance, a place in our hearts and in our land.

Loving God, we ask that you bestow upon all those who are subjected to violence, hunger, poverty, loneliness, grief and sickness, your continued love, care and blessings.  For those who are prisoners, who lack shelter and who live with addictions, repression, illness and pain, we ask you to be with them in their suffering and to offer them comfort.

Loving God, help us to recognize our collective responsibility in building a strong community, one that is inclusive, safe and responsive.  We pray for our church community and its clergy.  We pray for the entire world Christian community.  We pray for all people, of all spiritual traditions, of all nations as we know your love to be universal.  Help us to see your love in the faces of the strangers we encounter and in the friends we enjoy spending time with.

Loving God, we are often perplexed, confused and troubled by the world we are living in with all its tragic ills and problems which seem at times to be insurmountable.  In the midst of this world-wide pandemic which has seen so many people lose their loved ones and which doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, help us to strengthen our faith and to know and experience your love and care which are always present.  As we, who live in comparative abundance, sit down for a meal today, keep us ever mindful of those who are not so fortunate.
We pray all of this in the name of Jesus. Amen