Weekly worship: second Sunday of Lent, 17 March

Believe that another world is possible. 

Eva plants mangroves, Philippines

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18              Luke 13:31-35

Genesis 15: 1-12, 17-18

Abram is being asked to take the long view in this passage in Genesis. God promises him innumerable descendants and that they would all own land. Yet the circumstances of Abram’s life suggests this is very unlikely. He and Sarai, his wife, are both elderly and childless. 

And in this time of Lent as we reflect on our lives and on the seeming chaos of our world we might feel that the blessings and promises of God have passed us by.

However, Abram's faithful response to God’s promise present us with both a challenge and an inspiration: ‘And he believed the LORD, and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.’ (15:6)

Just as Abram gazed at a night sky brimming with stars, light years away, we are asked to look into a future that goes far beyond ourselves. Particularly when it comes to the work of ending poverty and the restoration of Creation.

As we hear daily news reports of species extinction and of events linked to climate change, we as the people of God are asked not to look at our immediate circumstances, but to lift our gaze to the stars. To believe that another world is possible, and to participate in that other world by working towards a future we may never see come to pass.

We are given inspiration and examples in this by our partners in the Philippines, as we listen to the stories of the community living at the sharp edge of climate change on the small island of Tabugon.

They're choosing to care for creation by planting mangrove trees, so their small island home can be protected from the effects of storm surges as a result of climate change.

But more than that, mangroves absorb three times more carbon into the land than the rainforests! They're planting for the future of the planet – a future they will not get to see.

And for all of us this Lent as we count our blessings, we are invited to give, act and pray for a world we may never see, but believe is possible.

Luke 13:31-35

As we listen to the stories of the Tabugon community this Lent, we are compelled to raise our voices to ensure their lives and livelihoods are not put at any greater risk than they already are by the effects of a changing climate.

As part of the Count Your Blessings journey through Lent, we're raising our prophetic voice against the powers perpetuating climate change – the banks that continue to invest in the fossil fuel industries.

HSBC is one of the largest banks in the world and has chosen to continue investing in coal and other fossil fuels.

In this exchange in Luke 13, Jesus gives us an insight of the costliness of being prophetic. It comes at the cost of being rejected and resisted. However, Jesus’ response also serves as a challenge to us all. Not only does he speak with authority, but he also responds with compassion and tenderness.

Would that our campaigning and raising of our prophetic voice would be done less from a place of anger and resentment, but rather from the longing and love that wills others to join the vision that we have of how things can be. 

Prayer

Sheltering God,  

You long to gather people beneath the strong wings of Shalom.  

Open our hearts to the prophets of peace,  

Fashion us into disciples of justice,  

So the world may know the freedoms of your kingdom; 

Through the mighty gentleness of Jesus Christ  

Amen.

(Christian Aid)

Points for prayer

  • Pray that campaigners visiting HSBC branches during Lent will have their concerns heard.
  • Pray that HSBC, one of the largest banks in the world, will stop funding coal, and other fossil fuels, for good.
  • Pray with communities in the Philippines who are living at the sharp edge of a changing climate (find out more in our Lent and Easter Appeal resources)
  • Give thanks and pray for the protection of forests and trees on 21 March, the UN Day of Forest and Tree 
  • Praise God for ready access to clean water, and pray that this will be a reality for everyone across the world soon on 22 March, World Water Day