Uniting together, Caring for all, Seeking God

Service Sheet 06.09.20

Uniting Church Sketty and Wesley Church Clydach ‘Worship from Home’ 6 September 2020

This ‘Worship from Home’ has been prepared by Rev Leslie Noon:

TODAY WE MARK CLIMATE SUNDAY

CCL: 1216366 (UCS)

Introduction

Throughout the church year, there are many special Sundays. There are the obvious ones like Easter and Pentecost – but we mark other Sundays as well, such as Harvest Sunday and Remembrance Sunday. From this year, ALL churches, across all denominations, are being encouraged to hold a new Sunday: Climate Sunday. The purpose is to explore the theological and scientific basis of creation care, to pray and to commit to action. In Clydach and in Sketty we have already demonstrated our willingness to be involved, for Clydach, the smallest church in the Circuit, has recently been awarded the Bronze Eco-Church award and Sketty the Silver Eco-Church award. This is to be celebrated – but our commitment MUST be on-going. So today in our worship we mark Climate Sunday.

 Call to worship

The Creator of the Universe calls us to leave the darkness behind and live in the light. Our Lord Jesus Christ who lived and died and rose again greets us this day. The One who danced at Creation’s birth calls us now into His presence. So come let us worship.

Sing: Touch the earth gently (StF 729)

Our first hymn takes us straight to the heart of the matter. It’s a new one, but the words are beautiful.

 Prayer of confession

Creator God, as I meditate on your wondrous works, I am conscious, as never before, of the fragility of our planet. I confess that I have run water to waste when there is thirst; wasted fossil fuels when there are alternatives; not cared for the environment or my own body; eaten and drunk beyond my needs, unmindful of those around the world for whom there is no full day’s food or drink. Lord God, your greatest glory is grace, shown in the words and actions of Jesus. I ask forgiveness and help to change my ways. Amen.

 Read Ezekiel 33: 7-11

As you read this reading set for today, I would like you to note what word your translation uses for the job or role to which Ezekiel has been called in verse 7.

 Reflection part 1

Different translations use different words for what the prophet Ezekiel has been called to be. Some say ‘watchman’, others ‘sentinel’, others ‘lookout’. But whatever word is used, the role is the same: to see and point out the nation’s failings so that they can mend their ways. This, at the end of the day, was the job description of a prophet!

This passage can be split into two parts. Firstly, in verses 7 to 9, we hear God telling Ezekiel about his role. And secondly in verses 10 to 11 God sets out the message that God wants Ezekiel to pass on. He articulates the collective guilt of Israel – they have realised their sins and believe that their struggles are connected to their disobedience. Ezekiel then emphasises God’s desire for renewal, for them to turn back to God, to turn in a different direction.

As we think today of climate change, what does this passage say to us? Well, splitting the passage into two parts helps us consider the different messages that can drawn. In the first few verses, we can put ourselves in the shoes of Ezekiel. What is our role in sharing the warnings we hear from creation’s cries, as we witness the effects of the climate crisis and other injustices? What role does the church have to play in standing watch over creation, and calling the people of God to respond when danger threatens our communities?

The second part of the passage enables us to position ourselves as the people of Israel, as we both hear and respond to the cries of warning. Who are the watchmen, the sentinels, the lookouts, – the prophets – standing watch and sharing warning that danger is coming our way today? Do we listen to their cry? Furthermore, how do we respond? The cry of the people in verse 10 suggests that the danger is not only coming from outside of the city walls but within. Where is our collective guilt, in accepting responsibility for the dangers before us? And when we realise this, what should our response be? Positioning ourselves here as we read the passage also gives us the chance to hear and receive God’s merciful response, and the call to renewal as a way forward.

Reading: Romans 13: 8-14

In our New Testament reading, we hear echoes of Jesus words in Matthew 22, in which Jesus sums up what faith is all about: loving God and loving neighbour.

Reflection part 2

For many of us, what Paul says here will be the foundation of our faith, echoing as it does those words of Jesus. For us, love is the foundation of our faith – love of God and love of neighbour. And we seek to express this in a multitude of different ways. Perhaps though we have been slow to see caring for creation as a fundamental part of loving God and loving neighbour. Climate change – and our part in causing it – is doing harm to God’s creation (and therefore God) and quite literally to the most vulnerable people in our world who are affected by drought, flooding and violent storms more than ever before. It is clear, therefore, that we must continually re-commit ourselves to care for God’s creation, to live more sustainable lives, to become more aware how our lifestyles impact on the world around us. This isn’t easy. It involves change and it involves sacrifice. But then again, Jesus never said it would be easy!

To Ponder

This 1972 picture of the earth taken by the crew of the US Apollo spacecraft is, apparently, the most widely distributed photo of all times, and reveals the beauty of the earth as a blue marbled planet. We can see what the astronauts saw; the earth’s sheer beauty, it’s vulnerability, as well as a new sense of humanity’s place on the planet, all suffused with an overwhelming sense of awe. Astronaut Michael Collins describes it “I remember so vividly what I saw when I looked back at my fragile home – a glistening, inviting beacon, delicate blue and white, a tiny outpost suspended in the black infinity. Earth is to be treasured and nurtured, something precious that must endure”.

Spend some time pondering this distant image of earth as well as looking out of your window at what you can see of earth close up. Give thanks to God for the beauty of creation and commit yourself to care for it more.

To pray

Bring to God in prayer those people and situations which trouble you most. Then finish by saying the prayer that Jesus taught us, ‘Our Father…’

Poem of Lament

“It’s 3:23 in the morning and I’m awake because my great great grandchildren won’t let me sleep. My great great grandchildren ask me in dreams what did you do while the Planet was plundered? What did you do when the Earth was unravelling? Surely you did something when the seasons started failing? As the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying? Did you fill the streets with protest when democracy was stolen? What did you do once you knew?…” Excerpt from “Hieroglyphic Stairway” by Drew Dillinger

Blessing

Deep peace of the running wave to you. Deep peace of the flowing air to you. Deep peace of the quiet earth to you. Deep peace of the shining stars to you. Deep peace of the gentle night to you. Moon and stars pour their healing light on you. Deep peace of Christ, of Christ the light of the world to you. Deep peace of Christ to you. Amen