Acknowledgement of Country – (Uniting World 7 Days of Solidarity Resource 2021)
As we gather, we acknowledge the traditional custodians of this sacred land on which we worship - the Dharawal people We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging.
We acknowledge that the First Peoples of this land had already encountered the Creator God before the arrival of the colonisers, and that the Spirit was already in the land revealing God to the people through law, custom and ceremony. We recognise the continued ministry of First Peoples within the church, and their continuing connection to their land and living cultures. We acknowledge the ways in which we, the church, have been and continue to be complicit in the oppression of First Peoples. And we recommit to the path of reconciliation and justice that God lays before us.
Lighting of the Christ Candle (Uniting World 7 Days of Solidarity Resource 2021)
Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life”. [John 8:12, NRSV]
We follow the one who is the light of the world.
Not just of this place, not just of this nation, not just of people like us, but the light of the world.
So as we gather to celebrate the work of our risen Lord in the world, we light this Christ candle, knowing that today countless thousands of candles will be lit in the name of Jesus, light of the world. Today we join in the celebration of Christians throughout the world as we declare our shared faith:
Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed
Welcome Prayer (Uniting World 7 Days of Solidarity Resource 2021)
Holy and Loving God,
Thank you that you make all things new.
And through your son Jesus Christ who was raised from the grave paves the way for us to have new life and new beginnings with you.
Shine your light in us, through us, over us and may we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes.
Guide us in this new season to look beyond ourselves and reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing.
Give us courage to walk in your peace and tell the Good News we have received through our words, deeds and every being of our lives,
We pause on this ANZAC day to remember the cost of war, the death and loss of servicemen and women and of others caught up in conflicts, the cost to families and community of their loss, and of the responsibility of the generations who follow to strive for peace. As a church, we remember with thanks our chaplains and uphold and sustain them in their ministry, as they offer pastoral care to Members of the Australian Defence Force and their families.
PRAYER FOR ANZAC DAY - (Dr Deidre Palmer 2021)
On this Anzac Day, we bring before you all those who have and continue to serve in our Defence Forces.
We remember and give thanks for their service to our country. We pray for those who grieve those who have died as a result of war.
We pray for all those who suffer in war, for those who suffer lasting injuries and impairments and those who continue to suffer from the trauma of war. We pray for comfort in their grief.
We pray too for supportive communities to journey with them in their struggles, healing and recovery.
We give thanks for our Defence Force chaplains. We thank you for their response to your call to offer spiritual leadership and pastoral care to Defence Force personnel and their families.
We pray for all those who are negotiating for peace in situations of war and conflict throughout our world. Bless them with wisdom, strength and resolve to find ways we can live together in harmony and respect for one another.
We pray that we might be bearers of your peace.
Through Christ, who is the source of our hope and our Peace, we pray.
We have so much to be thankful for, despite the challenges we have faced over the past year not only as individuals but also within our families, society and in the world.
Today we are reminded of the work that God is doing through our partner Churches, as they continue to live out their calling to go out and tell the world of the Good News that has come to us through Jesus Christ.
Luke 4:14 – 21
1 John 4:16b-21
Love your global neighbour Deidre Palmer, President Uniting Church in Australia (Uniting World 7 Days of Solidarity Resources 2021)
Loving God and loving our neighbour are woven together as we open our lives to the transforming power of the Risen Christ. In the first letter of John, we hear: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God.” “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.” What form does God’s love take in our world?
In this seven days of solidarity, we see and hear the form that love takes as we participate with our sisters and brothers in the global community of Christians. Uniting World has shared with us over the past week stories of our global partners in the Pacific, Asia and Africa – churches who are embodying Christ’s transforming love and hope in their particular contexts. We see disciples of Christ faithfully bearing the good news of Christ in their communities: through action for justice, addressing climate change, advocating for gender equality, supporting health care, education and raising up leaders. The ministry of UnitingWorld and our global partners arise from the ministry of Jesus, the good news that he embodied. In the pastoral and prophetic ministry of Jesus Christ we see the heart of who God is – a God of love, compassion, justice and reconciliation.
In the Gospel of Luke, we hear Jesus proclaiming and see him embodying God’s vision for our world. This is the vision in which Christ calls us to participate – a vision where there is good news for the poor, liberty for captives, sight for the blind, freedom for the oppressed and a Jubilee year, when debts are forgiven, and there is enough for everyone. In Luke 4: 16-21, the ‘sermon at Nazareth”, Jesus is announcing the program of his ministry. Jesus spoke to a people who were longing for liberation, longing for a word of hope. Jesus read the Scripture from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. The people listening were probably familiar with the text - faithful Jews hearing a reading from one of the Hebrew prophets. Jesus reads these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. From Isaiah 61:1-2a, then Jesus inserts “to let the oppressed go free” from Isaiah 58 and concludes with Isaiah 61: “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
David Bosch, in his book Transforming Mission, notes that the Isaiah passage that Jesus is drawing from was first directed to the Jewish community” shortly after the Babylonian exile”. It was meant to be a word of encouragement to remind them that God was still with them and would bring in “the year of the Lord’s favour”. This is a reference to the year of Jubilee. Isaiah was critiquing the social inequalities of his time. And the exploitation of the poor by the rich. The Jubilee year was described in Leviticus 25 – it was a time when wealth would be redistributed, where debts would be forgiven, when slaves would be set free. The people in the synagogue in Jesus’ time may have also seen this text through their own situation in that first century – they were a people in a situation of oppression – ruled by and paying taxes to a foreign power. Jesus spoke to the longings of the people for freedom. Jesus finishes reading the text, he sits down and declares to the people that this text of good news and liberation “has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke describes that in the ministry of Jesus through the power of the Spirit, those who are vulnerable, living in difficult circumstances, where they are prevented from flourishing, will be liberated – their eyes open to a new life through God’s transforming activity. In Jesus’ sermon at Nazareth, Jesus, anointed by the Spirit of God, offers a word of hope and calls for a reversal of all those situations in which people are exploited, oppressed, and burdened.
In this seven days of solidarity, we have seen and heard love expressed through the ministry of our global neighbours, and we are invited to join with them in embodying the Spirit of Christ. In our advocacy for justice for all, and through sharing the resources we have – our money, a distribution of resources we have, so that poverty is alleviated and its causes addressed. We are also called to share the stories of our global neighbours in our communities and networks, including them in our prayers, educating ourselves about their contexts, and genuinely entering into a mutual partnership. The Spirit of Christ sustained and empowered the early church and is present among us today as the One who now commissions us to be Christ’s agents of compassion and transformation. The Risen Christ comes to us to remind us who we are and to whom we belong – from where our vision and strength comes.
The Holy Spirit empowers the community of Christ to be courageous enough and persistent in standing up against all those things which threaten to dehumanise or exploit or prevent people from flourishing as human beings and give voice to the vision of God’s justice and love in our world. Our global partners, our sisters and brothers in Christ in the Pacific, Asia and Africa, are calling us to join them in taking seriously God’s call to embody the good news of Christ in ways that touch on every aspect of people’s lives – socially, psychologically, economically and spiritually. As the Uniting Church, we join with our global neighbours in solidarity. Together we are called through the transforming presence of the Risen, Crucified Christ, to actively live out Christ’s liberating mission of love, justice, peace and reconciliation. We are called to live Christ’s vision of hope, so that the voices of all people who cry out for justice are heard, all people are invited into the horizons of hope, and the life of abundance that Christ intends for us all and the whole of creation. May Christ, our Liberator, empower us with courage to embody in our partnerships, communities, nations and world, the abundant grace, compassion, and hope of God. Amen.
Song – Garden Garden - Mikali Anagnostis Mikali Anagnostis 2020 (Uniting World 7 Days of Solidarity Resource 2021)
Reflecting on those stories, on Deidre’s words, and the work of UnitingWorld that we’ve heard about over the past weeks, I would like you to reflect on the following 3 points:
Offering Prayer - (Uniting World 7 Days of Solidarity Resource 2021)
Loving God, we join today in celebration of your work in your world. We give you thanks for all the stories we have heard and shared, and for the countless more acts of grace and works of your Spirit that go unnoticed.
We give you thanks, too, for calling us to be part of this story, participants by word and deed in the work of making your Kingdom known to all.
And as part of our response to that call, we bring these gifts, and with them, we recommit ourselves into your service. Use our money and ourselves, here in our local community, and throughout your world.
For we ask in the name of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
Prayers of People (Uniting World 7 Days of Solidarity Resource 2021)
God of infinite compassion,
From age to age we tell the stories of Jesus’ time on earth – comforting the suffering, healing the sick, speaking out against injustice, challenging the powerful, and bringing hope to all humanity. Though those feet no longer walk the earth, and those hands no longer rest on the afflicted, we know you still hear the calling of your people, and we bring our prayers for the world in this time.
We pray for those struggling for the essentials of life – for food, clothing and shelter, but also for healthcare, and education – we pray that every bowl and every belly might be filled, and that every child might have the hope that comes from learning and dreaming. We pray for everyone who is oppressed or exploited in this time, and for victims of violence and trauma, that their wounds might be healed with peace, grace and justice.
We pray for the burgeoning effects of climate change, praying that all of humankind might have the moral fortitude to stand in solidarity to address this threat, and knowing that we all breathe the same air, regardless of what country we live in. And because we all breathe the same air, we pray especially for those whose lives have been upset or ended during this time of pandemic, just as we pray for victims of other natural disasters like floods, cyclones and earthquakes.
Beyond all of this, we pray for ourselves, in this here-and-now:
We pray for the courage to remain engaged with the messy, broken, beautiful world around us.
We pray for the integrity not to conveniently throw up our hands in despair when hope is hard to find – help us to have the constancy and the faith to continue looking for the cracks where your light shines through, knowing beyond doubt that your light is never lost.
We pray for the vision to get on board with the life-changing work that you are doing through our Christian sisters and brothers, whether that be down the street or on the other side of the world.
We pray that you will move hands and hearts, throughout this land and every land, to answer the human needs that go wanting.
And we pray that we, your people, might shine as an example of compassion and generosity in the way we use our words, our actions, our time, our talents and our resources.
Loving God, knowing you hear us and support us beyond our own strength, we lay down all that is heavy on our hearts at this time. And we take up, instead, the challenge to be your hands and feet and voice and eyes to our neighbours - next door, and in every place.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Good News People Good News People Uniting World 7DOS
A Franciscan Benediction - Uniting World 7 Days of Solidarity Resource 2021
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers,
half -truths, superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice,
oppression and exploitation,
so that you will work for justice, equity and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed
for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war,
so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and change their pain to joy.
And may God bless you with the foolishness to think
that you can make a difference in the world,
so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.
And may the Peace of God be always with you
Material in this service is from the Uniting World 7 Days of Solidarity Resource 2021.