Prayers of Adoration & Confession

Affectionate, gentle God,
you reveal yourself to us in the tenderness of ourselves and others,
our actions, our thoughts and our being.
You convey your joy in the vulnerable beauty of nature, i
n the shrubs and the gum trees,
in the life-flow of our fellow creatures.
Help us to feel worthy of this wonder.

When this vulnerability in nature
and in our human bodies is enacted
in violence, aching, consumption and distraction,
we feel your pain in our suffering and often we turn away.
We are frightened and unwilling to take on
the responsibility that comes with power,
and for the injustice of oppression as a result.
We confess that we would often rather turn away
than feel you here with us.
To know that you are eternally guiding us,
as you led your child 2000 years ago to speak truth to power.
Our own and others. Hold us in this pain.

Help us to know that we always have been and will be in your love.
From our first breath, we have been enough, we have been divine.
In our human pain and feelings of smallness, still we receive your joy.

Hear the word of wonder: Our sin is forgiven. Thanks be to God.

Anika Jensen, offered for worship 17/12

Prayers of the People

We pray for the people of Zimbabwe.
We acknowledge that their history is not an easy one,
including their colonisation by a European power,
with imposed changes on access to land and forced farming practices.
As well, their history post-independence has been difficult,
including leaders who have not put the interests of the nation
at the forefront of policies and national decisions.
Zimbabwe remains on the edge of a global system
which takes resources from poor countries,
a system which has no interest in balanced trade.
The country is also extremely vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

Loving God, we mourn for those affected
by the history of racism and colonisation,
including those still affected, such as the indigenous people of our land,
people in Palestine, African-Americans. For Zimbabwe,
we pray for deep justice, for new leaders who will hear
the voice of the poor and act in the nation’s interest
not the wishes of elites and wealthy minorities.
We acknowledge that we too are caught up in histories
and global systems which perpetuate and extend inequality,
and that most of us benefit from the inequality
which exists within and between nations.
May we be reminded of the example of Jesus
who told us to share our second coat
with the person who has no coat,
that equality requires simplicity and that God’s love
requires an equal sharing of all the world’s resources.

We thank you for the people of Zimbabwe,
for their commitment to peaceful protest,
for their rich and vibrant culture,
for their sense of community and connection,
and for their sense of God and spirituality.
Forgive us if we only see them as recipients of aid,
rather than people whose humanity is tied up with ours.
Forgive us for being unwilling to learn from them
and other cultures about what it means to be human,
of what God is like and how God comes to us in surprising, unexpected ways.

Help us to discover our humanity.
To learn from the Southern African philosophy
of ubuntu which recognises that individual identity
is always linked to a sense of community.
Forgive us for our isolation, our focus on self,
rather than on sharing with and learning from others.
Particularly at this time of year,
with our society’s emphasis on materialism,
may we have the insight to imagine and live different ways of sharing and giving.

We pray for the community groups, churches, social movements
and others who are working for justice in Zimbabwe.
May they be enlivened by the recent changes in the country.
May they be motivated by justice, not just charity.
May they also be aware of our support and prayers
although they work in an environment
where voices for justice can be met with oppression.

Loving God, inspire us too, to work for justice in our own community.
Challenge and encourage us with a sense of the “beloved community”
and a deep vision of your kingdom.
May we have the humility to learn from other workers
for justice and peace and teach us how to stand
in costly solidarity with them across the world.

For we ask in your name. Amen

Tim Budge, offered for worship 17/12