We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and tomorrow is the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XVI, 24 September 2023). We are also in the Season of Creation.
I am in London later this morning for the annual reunion and celebration day of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) in Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street.
But, before the day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for prayer and reflection.
This week, I have been reflecting each morning in these ways:
1, Reflecting on a theme in this Season of Creation, the annual Christian celebration to pray and respond together to the cry of Creation;
2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.
‘Litany of Repentance’:
The Season of Creation is the annual Christian celebration to pray and respond together to the cry of Creation: the ecumenical family around the world unites to listen and care for our common home, the Oikos of God.
The Season of Creation began on 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and it ends on 4 October, the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology beloved by many Christian denominations.
Each year, the Season of Creation Ecumenical Steering Committee proposes a theme for the Season of Creation. This year, the theme is ‘Let Justice and Peace Flow,’ and the symbol is ‘A Mighty River’.
The ecumenical resources produced for the Season of Creation this year include a ‘Litany of Repentance’ written by the Revd James Shri Bhagwan, General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches:
God of light, life and love,
God of land, and sea, and sky,
Who called creation into existence and wove it into a rich
tapestry, a fine mat, a web of life
Your Spirit hovered over the face of the primordial waters,
And was breathed into humankind after you made us
equally in your image.
Your Word was made flesh and embodied your divine
love as it took root and bore fruit in us, restoring our
relationship with you.
Yet we have not honoured this relationship with you and
the rest of your Creation.
We have disrespected the web of life
We have devalued the fine ecological mat that you wove
with so much love
We have uprooted Your tree of life and sold it as logs.
We have forgotten that we sweat and cry saltwater and
have polluted your oceans and rivers … oceans that cry for
Justice and rivers that call to righteousness.
Instead of everything that has breath praising you, all
creation groans in pain as trees and phytoplankton choke
on carbon belched from our desire for more, and our care
All around we see the consequences of our ecological sin
as we extract and exploit, as we defile and pillage our sister
and brother creation:
Heatwaves and wildfires
Droughts and floods
Rising sea levels and rising ocean temperatures
More extreme cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes
Yet we are blind
Creation roars in pain
Yet we are deaf
You call us in Christ, to speak truth to power and peace to
this planet, our common home
Yet we are silent.
God of hope and healing
May your Rivers of Righteousness
Wash away our apathy, our greed and selfishness and
reveal the deep relationships You created for us with all
Nourish us with the water of life that restores, turning
deserts of despair into oases of hope.
May the waves of Your embrace
Transform us back into guardians of Your creation.
May the currents of Your justice
Carry us to Your lagoon of peace
Where all creation may enjoy
Life in abundance.
We pray in the name of the one who came so that the whole
cosmos may have everlasting life,
Jesus the Christ,
Find out more about the Season of Creation HERE.
Luke 8: 4-15 (NRSVA):
4 When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. 7 Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’ As he said this, he called out, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
9 Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that
“looking they may not perceive,
and listening they may not understand.”
11 ‘Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. 14 As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.’
The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), has been ‘Let Justice and Peace Flow.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday.
The USPG Prayer Diary today (23 September 2023) invites us to pray in these words:
We thank you Lord for the infinite love and mercy you show all your people, for the blessings you bestow on your children.
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit
upon your Church in the burning fire of your love:
grant that your people may be fervent
in the fellowship of the gospel
that, always abiding in you,
they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Post Communion Prayer:
Keep, O Lord, your Church, with your perpetual mercy;
and, because without you our human frailty cannot but fall,
keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful,
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org