Sunday 17th May 2020

Christ Church  Sunday devotion for Christian Aid week   10th-16th May 2020.

Dear friends, Don asked if I would like to write the devotions for this Sunday. As it is the end of Christian Aid Week I have used the set gospel reading for the day and bearing in mind the theme: Love never fails  -some words from their website-Coronavirus impacts on all of us but we have love which unites us all.                       Blessings on you all.    Sue

Turning to God:       Sing to the Lord a new song: sing to the Lord all the earth.                                                                                                   

The Bible texts during  Christian Aid Week are challenging and rich in imagery. They give an opportunity to engage with the stories of brothers and sisters who are weary, exhausted by forced wandering and waiting for a welcome.

John 14:15-21    The Promise of the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Here Jesus offers comfort to the disciples, telling them they will not be alone once he has gone to the Father. The comfort provided by the Holy Spirit is also offered to us as followers of Jesus. When we choose to reach out to those in need we also reach out with the Holy Spirit and the love of God. Jesus says: ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments’. In John 15:12 he expands on this: ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’ We must reach out with the love of Jesus and love one another, friends and strangers. When we do this, Jesus is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. God lives in us through the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that we see glimpses of God’s kingdom of justice and mercy, and that we start to see people as God sees them: as people to love rather than people to fear.

As we hear  the voices of those who have no safe place to call home and feel the significance – what strikes you about the similarities, and the differences, with life in our community at the moment? We are so interconnected with our IT systems yet sometimes the scale of human struggle with coronavirus tempts us to look away, to stay in our bubbles and allow overload to turn to apathy or insularity, thinking that the little bit we can do will be washed away by the tidal wave of need.  By sharing and unpacking Christian Aid stories heard in previous years, we can help strengthen connections between communities and offer a counter to this apathy. Our Bible reading issued a challenge to us to be a refuge and safe place, to prepare a place of welcome for members of the worldwide family of God.

For 75 years, Christian Aid has given people the chance to be part of a story of transformation. We have been working with refugees for decades, and we won’t stop now. Working with refugees and speaking a language of love and welcome is a challenge in a world of fear and closed doors. But we know it is a challenge we must accept.   

Last Friday 8th May 2020 we celebrated Victory in Europe Day. Full of euphoria and razzmatazz a nation full of hope and promise for the future. But for some the struggles were just about to start.                                                                                                          When Christian Aid was launched, the refugee crisis following the Second World War was still ongoing, and was every bit as challenging as the refugee situation today. But Christians responded in their thousands, giving money, organising events, lobbying their politicians and inspiring others to do the same. It took a long time, but by the end of 1960, the refugee camps in Europe were finally closed.                                                                

For refugees like Theodor Davidovic – Refugee and long-term Christian Aid supporter ,this meant they could at last rebuild their lives in peace and safety.

70th Anniversary - Theodor Davidovic - YouTube In the camps, it was Christian Aid that sent the parcels…feeding us for two-and-a-half years, and I never forgot it. Christian Aid helped me to survive and I feel I owe my life to Christian Aid. I vowed there and then to do my best as long as I live, and I’m still doing it .                                                                       Theodor Davidovic. 2017

If you want to watch an interview with Theodor Davidovic or see a version of his life then use this link:

Or watch another on youtube.

This year we are being asked to respond to the stories told over the years.  Had we been meeting together we could have used the opportunity to celebrate the specific things that have happened in Christ Church and our community for Christian Aid Week, or ways we can play our part in future. For most of us in the past we may have given directly into a collecting tin or by handing in our Christian Aid Week envelope.

As this virus spreads across the world, love rises up in response. You’ve already shown incredible kindness to your neighbours. Now, where we can, is the time to reach out to your neighbours both near and far.

Your love protects.                                                                   From storms, from drought, and now from coronavirus. Your love protects our global neighbours battling the spread of this illness.                                                                            Your love protects. With soap, clean water and medical supplies.

By supporting this Christian Aid Week, you can reach out and protect more of your neighbours today.

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May God bless us with wonder at creation’s glory
May God bless us with fury at creation’s spoiling.
May God bless us with courage at this critical hour. 
And may the blessing of God, Creator, Son and Holy Spirit rest upon us and all creation, this day and for the future to come.   Amen.

Hymn 499 Singing the Faith  

Great God, your love has called us here              as we, by love, for love were made.
Your living likeness still we bear,
though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed.
We come, with all our heart and mind
your call to hear, your love to find.

We come with self-inflicted pains
of broken trust and chosen wrong,
half-free, half-bound by inner chains,
by social forces swept along,
by powers and systems close confined,
yet seeking hope for humankind.

Great God, in Christ you call our name
and then receive us as your own,
not through some merit, right or claim,
but by your gracious love alone:
We strain to glimpse your mercy seat                                                       and find you kneeling at our feet.

Then take the towel, and break the bread,
and humble us, and call us friends.
Suffer and serve till all are fed,
and show how grandly love intends
to work till all creation sings,
to fill all worlds, to crown all things.

Great God, in Christ you set us free
your life to live, your joy to share.
Give us your Spirit’s liberty
to turn from guilt and dull despair
and offer all that faith can do
while love is making all things new.                                            Brian Wren (b 1936)                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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