“Now Israel, what does the LORD your God desire from you? Only this: fear him, walk in all his ways, love him, serve him with all your heart and in all your life. Deuteronomy 10: 12 (NIV)
The Lord has shown you what is good. He has told you what he requires of you. You must act with justice. You must love to show mercy. And you must be humble as you live in the sight of your God. Micah 6: 8 (NIRV)
While preparing for this Sunday’s service, it reminded me that underpinning all of Jesus’ teaching- whether on healing, speaking, serving, living – is the crucial relationship we have with God. If we love God and want to walk according to his will and purpose, as Jesus did, then everything else falls into place and challenges so many of our default positions. We criticise others because they are not as we are – which is often in their favor, but which we find hard to believe or even think!
And so we see it reflected in the news, where bombs in a Sanaa, Yemen mosque killed worshippers celebrating Eidh-al-Adha (commemorating Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac); Bangladeshi bloggers are killed because they express ideas contrary to fundamentalist Muslims; and so with ISIL in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and so many ‘Christian’ countries throughout history. We may no longer kill, but we try to kill their spirits by marginalising, ignoring, humiliating, and otherwise denying their humanity held in common with us as created by God.
Lord, forgive our arrogance and closed minds. Open our hearts by your Holy Spirit to the teaching of the Word made Flesh
We hold before you the suffering of so many in Sumatra, due to fires which have been raging for several months, causing high levels of air pollution in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. And as fires continue to blaze throughout California, USA, we give thanks that some prisoners used as volunteer firefighters are helping and simultaneously finding a new purpose in life.
Lord, help us to turn tragedies into opportunities to work together as your family here on our shared earth. Lord, have mercy.
This week has revealed the corrupt practices of so many multi-national companies and governments – from German car manufacturer VW cheating and lying to obtain false low carbon emissions for their diesel cars, to various governments in recent history including Germany, the USA, France, Panama and especially the United Kingdom, teaching how to interrogate with torture methods that leave no physical trace. In Kenya 500 police officers have been charged with crimes including murder.
Lord, we mutilate and destroy our brothers and sisters and the world you have given us. Teach us anew to honor and cherish all of your creation which thereby contains that which is divine. Lord, have mercy.
We give thanks for the woman in Liverpool, England, who disturbed by the plight of refugees has literally opened her home to a refugee family. We give thanks too for so many in Greece, already struggling themselves to survive, who care, feed, and provide tents to arriving refugees.
We give thanks, too, for all the high-tech work going on in so many places towards helping those paralyzed to have the hope of walking again; and for low-tech ways of improving agriculture in countries struggling with hunger and declining water supplies.
As Pope Francis visits the United States, bless him and all those to whom he is reaching out, in the Congress, at the United Nations, and in the communities he is visiting. Open all to hear his call to care lovingly for this planet and for the people which populate it. Open hearts to hear his call for Mercy and Justice.
Lord, open our eyes to see and give thanks for the people you have called to do your work in the world and who have answered with the dedication of their lives. Lord, have mercy.
God our challenger and disturber, help us to confront
all that makes for death and despair
in our lives, our communities, our world.
May we never lose sight
of the possibility of transformation
and be continually surprised
by people who believe in one another. AMEN.
(Joy Mead, in Friend and Enemies)