Reflections and Prayers 6th Sunday of Easter - 9th May
This week's readings can be found here John 15.9-17
A new commandment or the same simple message?
Monday will see the start of Katrina's ministry among us in Carlford. Please welcome her by joining the service at 7:30 pm on YouTube. Please pray for her, particularly in the next few weeks and months, as she gets to know us and together we work out God's agenda and priorities for the benefice. Even before we updated the job description to take account of Covid, the role of rector of Carlford was a challenging one – nine different church congregations each with their own personalities and traditions; nine different village communities, each with their own needs, some obvious and others hidden from view. How will Katrina balance expectations, resources, time and energy; how will she discern God's purposes and plan?
On Monday, please also pray for Rose, a woman not much older than Katrina, in rural Kenya, who will be making the same weary journey to collect water that she has been making for most of her married life. Now a widow, she relies on a small earth dam that is supposed to collect rainwater for her village, but in the last few years the rain has become unpredictable and there is insufficient to irrigate the now arid fields where Rose struggles to grow enough to feed her family. Monday is the start of Christian Aid week, which I see each year is a wake-up call to me to think beyond my personal boundaries, and a wake-up call to all of us to think beyond our parish and benefice horizons. The daily struggles to survive faced by Rose and others most directly affected by climate change make the difficulties on our local agendas pale into insignificance. The long-term campaign to arrest further global warming and environmental degradation far outweighs the short-term need to manage Covid, build a lavatory for our church, or pay the parish share.
Whether praying with and for Katrina, Rose or Christian Aid, this Sunday's continuation from John 15 gives us one of the very few specific commands recorded as actually spoken by Jesus - "Love each other as I have loved you." He tells the disciples and us that we are joined in friendship with God and each other by bonds of love. Jesus rarely gives specific instructions about how we should live or issue commandments, but this is the one great exception and in the reading he says it twice for emphasis - "Love each other." How wonderfully simple!
This week's passage also includes Jesus' words, "I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last." Katrina will read that and pray for its fulfilment in her ministry in Carlford. If Rose reads that, she will probably think in more earthy terms and pray for sufficient rain for her maize. When I read that, I ask myself what fruit God wants me to bear. And you?
Christian Aid Week Prayer
Who makes the sun to rise, and opens the heavens
Hear the cry of the people
Who sow in hope for rain, but reap only despair
Hear the cry of the people
Seeking shelter from the storm, their hopes and homes
Hear the cry of the people,
When creation is hitting back, with rage and resistance
Give us hope, grant us salvation,
Give us a new relationship with creation
With reverence to tend this gift from You
And say once again of the earth and all you created
It is GOOD.
George Herbert (1593-1633) Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back, Guiltie of dust and sinne. But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack From my first entrance in, Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning, If I lack'd anything. A guest, I answer'd, worthy to be here: Love said, You shall be he. I, the unkinde, ungratefull? Ah my deare, I cannot look on thee. Love took my hand, and smiling did reply, Who made the eyes but I? Truth Lord, but I have marr'd them: let my shame Go where it doth deserve. And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame? My deare, then I will serve. You must sit down, sayes Love, and taste my meat: So I did sit and eat.
To Pray for
Katrina and her family as they start their journey amongst our Carlford Benefice
For peace and resolution of the fishing waters between France and Britain
Our local councillors elected to act on our behalf after this week's election
Halima Cisse in Mali who, this week, gave birth to Nonuplets (nine babies) by cesearean section, all doing well so far. Pray they continue to do well as often there can be health complications