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Related Bible reading(s): John 6.1-21

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Up-to-the-minute jumping-off points for sermons, linking the reading to the latest news and global issues

 

Small acts big change

How our small acts of generosity can lead to big miracles

Context

Churches are urged to be cautious, as Covid-related restrictions on worship are relaxed. Marcus Rashford explains how he has used his commercial appeal to help 1.3m children in food poverty. Muslim’s celebrate Eid, God’s intervention to save the life of the Prophet’s son, Ismail. Police to appoint new senior officer to tackle violence against women, announces the home secretary, as rape convictions fall and Everyone’s Invited collect over 51,000 testimonies from survivors. As Europe cleans up from the floods in Europe, thousands are evacuated from severe flooding in China, while wildfires burn in Canada. Meanwhile millionaires Bezos and Branson argue that their space trips can open solutions to environmental issues; whereas Greta Thunberg and activist groups argue we should fix climate change instead.

 

Ideas for sermons or interactive talks

From food poverty to climate change or rape culture, change starts with small steps of brave generosity, by people like us.

In our group for abuse survivors, one member described recently his feeling of shame as he stood in the food bank line for the first time. He ducked out, then had to rejoin the back of the line as he remembered his children. The warmth of the volunteers when it reached his turn helped him to leave with a full bag and a full heart, thankful for the generosity and kindness of strangers. A Christian, he described this as the miraculous generosity of God in action.

In that sense, we can all be miracle workers. Like Andrew, we may not have much to give – but each act of generosity amplifies the good, just as Marcus Rashford has achieved miracles not just through his fame, but through inspiring people like you and me to do our bit. Whether its tackling food poverty or climate change, what small act can we start a miracle with today?

Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid-a-Ahda, which means ‘festival of sacrifice’ and commemorates when God stopped the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) from sacrificing his son, Ismail (Isaac in the Bible). The Eid tradition is to share sacrificed meat in three parts – with family, friends and the poor – a message of equality that ensures everyone has enough to eat. Often presented in Christian teaching as a tale of obedience, to abuse survivors this is a sign that God protects the most vulnerable and tackles abuse.

With #MeToo and Everyone’s Invited revealing the true scale of abuse, is it enough to expect government to tackle rape culture? Generosity is also a lesson in equality – and we’re not all equal while one of us suffers, whether through starvation or abuse. We can’t all be sexual violence activists, but we can start with small acts here too; from talking about challenging the culture to ensuring that, as our churches reopen for worship, the needs of the most vulnerable are not forgotten.

 

Questions for discussion

Where have you seen your generosity creating change?

How can faith communities contribute to tackling rape culture?

What is your church doing to include the most vulnerable, as Covid rules relax?

 

Jane Chevous is an activist, writer and sailor, and co-founder of Survivors Voices. She researches and writes about abuse, theology, mental health and the sea.

 

Check-in

Connecting faith with everyday, real-life issues for young people

School’s out for summer; Restrictions have officially been lifted. Time to party, right?

Well, yes and no. As we see from this week’s passage (John 6:1-21) Jesus was keen on people getting together. But he was also attuned to people’s needs and to people’s worries and concerns. In today’s passage, Jesus takes note of people’s discomfort – in this case, their hunger – and responds by sharing what he has.

As government restrictions end, some people are celebrating and never want to see a mask again. Yet others are nervous about the impact this might have. However we ourselves feel about it all, let’s follow Jesus’s example and be sensitive to different people’s needs and feelings. Sharing small acts of consideration as we all move into a new phase together can go a huge way to bringing people comfort.

It goes the other way too. Thoughtless comments, hurtful jokes, flippant remarks can have a huge impact – even years later. This week, an inconsiderate joke made by the director of the Olympic games opening ceremony, Kentaro Kobayashi, over thirty years ago has cost him his job.

Have no doubt, our small words and actions, shared with others, can make a massive difference. This week, let’s make sure they’re making the right kind of difference.

Can we sometimes excuse hurtful comments or actions as ‘banter’ or ‘just having a laugh?’

What small actions can you take this week to put people at ease as restrictions open up?

 

Lucy Carman is a freelance writer and editor and also works as the Office Manager at her local Anglican church. She’s looking forward to being able to go on holiday this year (but will have a mask in her pocket)!

 

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