Prelude Roots and Wings by Elizabeth Harley
In this time of continuing insecurity and social upheaval,
When most of us are unable to meet in person,
I invite you into this time of online worship.
For this short space of time,
Let us put our worldly cares aside,
Close our eyes and imagine ourselves
To be in our places of worship,
Surrounded by members of our beloved community,
And be together, if only virtually,
At this one time.
Chalice Lighting (you may wish to light a candle in your own home at this point. I will be lighting my chalice for worship at 11.00 am on Sunday morning) (words by Cliff Reed)
We light this chalice
to bring light to our minds,
wisdom to our souls, and
warmth to our hearts:
light to show us the Way,
wisdom to walk it truly,
warmth to enfold our fellow
pilgrims with compassion.
Spirit of Life and Love,
Be with us as we gather for worship,
Each in their own place.
Help us to feel a sense of community,
Even though we are physically apart.
Help us to care for each other,
In this difficult time,
Keeping in touch however we can,
And helping each other,
However we may.
We hold in our hearts all those
Whose lives have been touched,
In whatever way,
By painful events, in their lives,
And in the wider world,
Of which we are all a part. Amen
Reading from the Book of Amos in The Hebrew Bible, Chapter 8, verses 4-7, followed by Scales of Justice by Sophie Stanes from the One World Week website
Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying “When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain; and the Sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the bushel small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.” The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
Our choice could tip the balance in favour of the poor and lighten the load
of those weighed down
We could level inequality and distribute warehouse mountains; share out the wealth that was never ours to hoard
Turn the tables on those who play the markets, we could stockpile generosity
and speculate in hope; sell up our shares in selfishness and settle for the dividends of solidarity
For added value, build portfolios of justice or an ISA in the growth of the kingdom of God, buy shares in trust and act in faith, risk our securities to find a richer life
May the percentage of our interest in people rise, and may we be the prophets.
Alternative Lord’s Prayer
Spirit of Life and Love, here and everywhere,
May we be aware of your presence in our lives.
May our world be blessed.
May our daily needs be met,
And may our shortcomings be forgiven,
As we forgive those of others.
Give us the strength to resist wrong-doing,
The inspiration and guidance to do right,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
We are your hands in the world; help us to grow.
May we have compassion for all living beings,
And receive whatever life brings,
With courage and trust.
Reading Getting Along by Cliff Reed
Why can’t we all just get along, God?
You don’t care a hoot about our conflicting creeds, dogmas and theologies,
So why do we argue and fight about them?
Why can’t we just be a bit more loving to each other?
Is it really so hard?
Why can’t we give each other a bit more respect?
Why can’t we be kinder and more forgiving?
Why can’t we all live by a few simple rules
about honesty, consideration for others, and treating them
as we’d like to be treated ourselves?
Why can’t we accept that it’s enough to part of the one human family,
regardless of the labels we stick on ourselves?
Why can’t we live together peacefully on this beautiful earth
without wrecking it?
Why can’t we be content to have enough, and only be
discontent when other people don’t?
Why do we persist in judging other people
instead of paying attention to our own mistakes?
Why do we have to be rude, nasty, and violent to each other
when it’s so much better – and easier – to be nice?
God, why can’t we all just get along?
Show us the right path.
Prayer by Sophie Stanes from the One World Week website (adapted)
Grant us a spirit of concern for the future of our environment;
Bring an end to the exploitation of the earth’s scarce resources;
Encourage us to be responsible stewards of your creation.
Grant us a spirit of respect, recognising the value and integrity of each person; Encourage us to be accepting of ourselves and of others.
Help us become advocates of peace, bringing an end to conflict and division;
Renew our commitment to challenging the causes of injustice.
Grant us a spirit of openness to see God within and around us;
Help us rejoice in the good we have experienced as we move forward to the future;
Help us use our senses to celebrate beauty and creativity in the world.
Grant us a spirit of truth to recognise failings, which have hurt us, others and the world;
Give us the humility to ask forgiveness for our part in any wrongdoing;
Grant us a spirit of generosity to reach out in trust to those we encounter;
Help us to embody God’s love in our relationships with one another.
May it be so. Amen
Reading: The Mirembe Kawomera Cooperative from the One World Week website
This reading shows what can be done, if the dream and the will to succeed are present:
Mirembe Kawomera Coffee began with one man’s dream. In 2003, JJ Keki, a Ugandan coffee farmer, walked door to door asking his Jewish, Christian, and Muslim neighbours to put aside old differences and come together. Their community of third and fourth generation coffee farmers was struggling to make a living off the low prices offered by the local market. With the assistance of Laura Wetzler from the US-based Jewish organization Kulanu, these Jewish, Christian and Muslim farmers formed a cooperative to build lasting prosperity in their villages and to spread a message of peace throughout the world. They named their coffee Mirembe Kawomera, which means, “Delicious Peace” in the Luganda language.
By 2008, the Peace Kawomera Cooperative had grown to over 750 members. Thanks to their collective effort, the farmers sell directly to Thanksgiving Coffee Company, and receive prices four times higher than what they were previously paid. This has enabled farmers to send their children to school, start savings accounts, and reinvest in their farms.
Together, the farmers have succeeded in doing something that none could have done alone. As they face the many challenges of life in rural Uganda, they look to their cooperative for hope and strength. In the coming years, the Cooperative plans to invest in land and equipment, offer microfinance to members and contribute to a variety of public health and education projects.
Time of Stillness and Reflection from the One World Week website (adapted)
Please could you find an object in your pocket or handbag which is symbolic of our lifestyle in the rich part of the world. It might be a car key (transport), or a mobile phone (cheap communication). It might be a coin (consumerism) or simply a piece of paper or a book (access to information).
Think for a few moments about all that lies behind that object: where it might have been made, how it was made, who might have made it, the energy and resources used in its manufacture. Try to ask yourself as you meditate whether you could live without it (or without what that object symbolises for you). How might you be more content to do without that object? How might it build community?
Spirit of light and life
whose breath sustains us,
inspire us with new ways of living
show us our interdependence with all creation
grant us courage to live simply
that we may be good news for the rest of the planet.
Musical Interlude A Welsh Wedding by Elizabeth Harley
Address For One World Week
Today marks the beginning of One World Week. We’re all incredibly lucky here, you know. We live in an affluent society; all of us have enough to eat, a roof over our heads, people who care for us. It takes something like One World Week, to jolt us out of our complacency, and to realise that the same isn’t true for the majority of the world’s population.
A few years ago, the late Rev. Austin Fitzpatrick circulated an e-mail entitled Something on Which To Ponder. I’d like to share it with you:
If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following:
There would be:
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
52 would be female
48 would be male,
70 would be non-white, 30 would be white
70 would be non-Christian, 30 would be Christian
89 would be heterosexual, 11 would be homosexual
6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth, and all 6 would be from the United States.
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
1 would be near death;
1 would be near birth
1 would have a college education
1 would own a computer
When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.
The following is also something to ponder:
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness…you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death…you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep…you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace … you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
Makes you think doesn’t it? In comparison to the majority of the Earth’s population, we have such lots, and the rest of the world is in such dire need. It doesn’t seem fair to me. So what can we do about it? Giving to charities such as Oxfam is only one small part of the story. What I hadn’t appreciated until a few years ago is the direct impact that our affluent lifestyles have on the rest of the world.
And then I read Enough by Brighton Unitarian John Naish. Published in 2009, it was a book which has changed my life. His argument is that not only do we have everything we could possibly need, but also that by always chasing after more, we are wrecking the planet for everyone else (not to mention future generations), AND not being any happier and fulfilled ourselves. One particular passage really hit home:
“We have some evolving to do. And quickly. We need to develop a sense of enough. … We have created a culture that has one over-riding message – we do not yet have all we need to be satisfied. The answer, we are told, is to have, see, be and do even more. Always more. But this is bearing strange fruit: levels of stress, depression and burnout are all rising fast, even though we live amid unprecedented abundance. Our planet doesn’t look so happy either. … In the Western world we now effectively have everything we could possibly need. There is no ‘more’. We have to learn to live ‘post-more’. This isn’t about turning the clocks back or having less. It’s about realising that we’ve arrived (hurrah times three). Enoughness is a path to contentment. It’s about personal ecology, about each of us finding our own sustainable balance as individuals.” He warns that if we don’t do this, the cycle of manufacturing and consuming ever ‘more’ of everything “will continue until the planet is only fit for cockroaches.”
So what can we, as concerned individuals, do? It isn’t enough just to put the papers and bottles into a recycling box once a week, or to buy organic vegetables. To really make a difference, enough of us need to make fundamental changes to our lifestyles.
The imbalances in the world are not only due to climate change. The food you eat and the clothes you wear will often as not have been produced in developing world countries, by people who are being paid peanuts for their work. The Western demand for all kinds of everything all the year round has had far-reaching effects all over the world. Farmers in developing countries now grow “cash crops” such as coffee and bananas, instead of food to feed themselves and their families. Then it is flown in to this country, thereby contributing more to global warming. At the very same time, our crazy government is planning to plough up more and more prime agricultural land to put housing on it. If another war came, we in Britain could no longer feed ourselves. Sensible? I don’t think so.
The same craziness applies to clothing: sweat shops in India and the Far East produce “cheap” clothes with bonded labour. Cheap for us maybe. While the UK textiles trade has all but disappeared. So we carry on buying £5 tee-shirts, made in China, Malaysia, Bangladesh or India, and suppress our unease about doing so, because the alternative – ethical shopping – is less convenient, more difficult and more expensive.
But I think the time is drawing near when we can no longer put our heads in the sand. Not if we want to live with ourselves. Not if we want a healthy planet for our children and grandchildren to live on. Not if we truly believe that exploitation and slavery are wrong. Perhaps it is time for us to take responsibility for the choices we make, and to buy only fair-traded food, and ethically produced clothing. If enough of us “voted with our feet” by no longer buying goods that are the results of exploitation, maybe things would change. Maybe.
All the things I’ve mentioned just now are fine and practical. But I agree with John Naish when he says that the changes we need to make are more fundamental. We really do need to adopt his doctrine of enoughism and realise that we already have everything we need. We need to educate ourselves out of the consumerist treadmill that our primitive brains have hot-wired us into, and realise that we actually don’t need to buy the latest gadget, the newest fashion item, the fastest car, in order to be contented and fulfilled in our lives. We need to wean ourselves off the dependency on material goods to provide happiness, because he’s right – they don’t. We need to examine our lives with enoughism in mind, and ask ourselves some important questions, like:
- What optimum level of information do I need to thrive?
- How many technological gadgets do I actually need, as opposed to desire?
- Do I really savour the food I eat? Or do I gollop it down quickly without tasting it?
- Do I truly need this new outfit / mobile phone / slow cooker, rather than just want it?
- Has my desire for this thing been implanted by marketing techniques?
- Is there anything I already own that I could substitute for it?
- If I’m replacing something I’ve already got, what’s really wrong with the old one?
- Have I got my work/life balance right?
- Do I spend my leisure time doing the things I love?
- What do I truly value?
To sum up in the words of Keith Helmuth: “Faith in God, solidarity with the suffering poor and all other forms of life demands that we take a stand and say, ‘This destruction must stop’. We must be perfectly clear about the implications of undertaking this responsibility. It is more than just setting up household recycling bins, growing organic vegetables, or riding a bike to work. It is a renovation which will change everything: the way we do business, the way we eat, the way we travel, the houses we build, the products and services we can expect and the prices we pay for them, the way we feel about trees, and the way we worship God.” May it be so.
Closing Words from the One World Week website
O Lord, Spirit of life,
Who cares for all creation, give us your peace.
May our security not come from arms, but from respect.
May our force not be of violence, but of love.
May our wealth not be in money, but in sharing.
May our path not be of ambition, but of justice.
May our victory not be from vengeance, but in forgiveness.
Open and confident, we want to defend the dignity of all creation,
Sharing, today and forever, the bread of solidarity and peace. Amen
Postlude Lady of Lewesdon Hill by Elizabeth Harley