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United by Hope

18 May 2022

United by Hope

[You can watch an abridged version of the Service here: ]

This link will take you to the first video from Christian Aid, shared on YouTube:


Welcome and introduction


Gathering Prayer

Let us pray

O God, who created the Heavens and stretched them out - WE PRAISE YOU!

You who made the earth and all that lives here – WE PRAISE YOU

God of many names and many places we come to you - BE WITH US IN THIS TIME

Saviour of the world and Healer of the nations:


You are the God of the poor, the human and simple God, the God that sweats in the street; the God with the weathered face; That is why we speak to you, because you are the labourer God, the worker Christ.


Hand in hand you walk with all people; You struggle in the fields and in the city; You stand in line at the refugee camp; We have seen you at the corner shop, on the park bench and begging in the street.


We believe that you are with us in the darkness before the dawn, in the waiting and uncertainty, where fear and courage join hands, conflict and caring link arms, and the sun rises over the barbed wire.


We believe that you are with us; that you sit down in our midst; that you share our humanity; that you walk the road we walk; that you paid a price we were unable to pay. And that you gave your life for this world.


We believe that you are within us; that you inspire and guide us and make us restless for change and to be ready to put ourselves on the line.


We believe that you call us to go beyond the safe place, to bear responsibility, to take risks, to live powerfully, to face humiliation and to stand with those on the edge and be used to create Your new Community of Hope.


Loving God, You have led us to this place, not to shield us from heartache and the pain of human life, but to heal us and inspire us, to gently redirect us, till we see the world as you do and love it with your love.




Let us Pray – Please join in the words in BOLD

Loving Father: We are members of a family, the human family which, in the ancient land of Ukraine,
is torn by tension, suspicion, hatred, hunger and killing. We are troubled by cruelty and disaster such as we have never known, and we are unclear of the cause and unsure of the remedy.
We believe that you accept our confusion as well as our concern, and you have never been deaf to the cries of anger, fear and hopelessness in the face of injustice.
We are the Body of Christ in which if one part suffers, the other parts pray to heal it and help to bear it.

But when we fail, and for our incapacity at times to feel the sufferings of others, and for our tendency to live comfortably with injustice,



For those who live their lives in careless unconcern, for our failings in community and our lack of understanding


For our lack of forgiveness, openness, sensitivity, For the times we were too eager to be better than others, when we are too rushed to care, when we are too tired to bother, when we don’t really listen, when we are too quick to act from motives other than love



The Lord says: I will bring my people back to me.
I will love them with all my heart. No longer am I angry with them. I will be to the people like rain in a dry land.

This is the promise of God. Thanks be to God. Amen           


First Reading – Psalm 31 - Ann Gould

1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
13. For I hear many whisperings, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God”.


Ukraine and Christian Aid

The Russian Federation launched their initial military offensive against Ukraine on 24 February 2022. In the space of just over two months, according to the latest report from the United Nations, more than 12 million people have fled their homes since the conflict began. As well as the 6.3 million who have left for neighbouring countries, an additional 6.5 million people are thought to be displaced inside their war-torn country itself. These are people of all ages who have seen their towns and cities reduced to rubble. People who just a few months ago were leading ordinary, peaceful lives not much different from our own. They were forced to flee from everything they knew, often without time to pack or prepare, as they became a target for the next airstrike. This conflict has no end in sight and the need is growing daily. This is the fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II.

Over 3,000 civilians have been killed and many injured with a high proportion being children. Humanitarian needs are increasing exponentially.

Christian Aid is responding to this crisisThey are working with partner organisations in Ukraine; a coalition of Protestant and Orthodox churches engaged in humanitarian and development work;  Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA); and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Poland, So far, they have reached well in excess of 30,000 people with lifesaving aid, shelter, food, water, sanitation and health support, as well as offering vital information for refugees and internally displaced people.

Through the Disaster Emergency Committee emergency appeal, Christian Aid has donated millions for trauma first aid kits and urgently needed medical and pharmaceutical equipment, through their partner Crown Agents. This alliance is working directly with Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to supply these kits to those caught up in the fighting.

And so we turn to Natalia and her story…..

Natalia, and her two children, Igor, 9, and 2-month-old baby girl, are the first family to stay in a shelter supported by Christian Aid’s partner ‘Hungarian Interchurch Aid’ in Lviv, western Ukraine. Her baby girl is also the youngest internally displaced person there.

The shelter is in a church building and was established at the very beginning of the war. A priest runs it and he says they shelter 150 refugees daily. Some refugees rest for a short time and some stay longer. Women and children are prioritised so that they don’t need to sleep at overcrowded railway stations

Natalia and her children fled from their home and travelled by bus to Lviv. The family comes from the Kyiv region and Natalia’s husband is in the army and she does not know what has happened to him.

Natalia says: ‘Our village was destroyed. There was bombing every day. I feared for my family. I’m afraid for my husband’. Natalia prays for peace for her children. She says she wants to stay in Lviv until the end of the war, because the bombings in her home village were so incredibly stressful.

‘When there was bombing at night, I did not know where to go. We feared that our building would be destroyed, but in this shelter, in this church, I feel peaceful’.


Let us pray

God of all peoples and nations, who created all things alive and breathing, United and whole, show us the way of peace that is Your overwhelming presence.

We hold before you the peoples of Ukraine and Russia, every child and every adult. We long for the time when weapons of war are beaten into ploughshares, when nations no longer lift up sword against nation.

We cry out to you for peace; Protect those, like Natalia and her children, who only desire and deserve to live in security and safety, comfort those who fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones, be with those who are bereaved.

Change the hearts of those set on violence and aggression and fill leaders with the wisdom that leads to peace. Kindle again in us a love of our neighbour, and a passion for justice to prevail and a renewed recognition that we all play a part in peace.

Creator of all hear our prayer And bring us peace and make us whole. Amen


Second Reading – Revelation 21: 1-7 – Donalda Plowman

21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Zimbabwe and Christian Aid

We have all seen the heartbreaking pictures emerging from Ukraine, but the war has had a devastating effect on other countries too, including countries in north and east Africa where prolonged periods of drought have brought the region to the edge of famine. They are reliant on grain imported from Ukraine and Russia to survive but since the war started grain has piled up in the ports along the Black Sea coast, because it is too dangerous to move. It could be used as a political pawn by whoever controls the ports.

Ukraine and Russia produce large amounts of the world’s fertiliser and food, like wheat 30% and sunflower oil 50%. We have seen prices rise in this country and it is the same world-wide.  Vulnerable families will be pushed even deeper into poverty and hunger, particularly in Africa where people are also struggling with Covid and other diseases such as malaria, cholera and dengue fever. As if things weren’t tough enough as they try to cope with climate change which results in more intense droughts, floods, and storms.

Recently I heard an African farmer describe how he can no longer tell when the rains will come. 20 years ago they came reliably in the first days of March, so he could prepare his land for sowing, but now if he prepares the earth and rain doesn't come, the soil is blown away. If he waits until it rains the land is too hard to absorb the rain which runs off and evaporates. The gift of a mobile phone to his village has enabled him and other farmers to get up to date weather forecasts and be ready to plant when the rain comes.

 This is Jessica Mwedzi in Zimbabwe. She lives with her children and her husband who is ill. She is the only breadwinner. Often a single bowl of porridge is all she and her family eat in a day: ‘She says “My children crave a decent meal, but I can’t provide. We often go to bed on an empty stomach. It pains me to send them to bed hungry.’

For Jessica, drought means every day is a struggle for survival.

Like many women in rural Zimbabwe - 7 out of 10 rely on farming for income and food - she toils on her farm, but nothing can grow on her arid land.

Drought intensified by the climate crisis, and the effects of war in Ukraine on global food production drives families like Jessica’s into hunger.

It’s unjust that drought - exacerbated by the effects of conflict and the global pandemic - robs Jessica of the power to provide for her family. Her children depend on her and her love for her family gives her courage to stand strong

With help from Christian Aid Jessica could grow drought-resistant crops, set up water taps on her farm, learn how to grow fresh food like tomatoes, beans and cucumbers despite the harsh climate. She'll see her children enjoy their first full meal in months.

Your gift today will help Jessica and mothers like her provide their children with good food, and a full life, free from hunger. Her hope lives in you.

Let us Pray
God of the (w)holistic Church, God of many satisfied stomachs, we have come in from the real world to draw breath, to meet friends and chat, but then..........Where are you, God of Love in the wars that tear the world apart? Where are you, Christ of Compassion, in the refugee situations and the ever-increasing numbers of devastated people? Where are you, Holy Spirit of Comfort where there is no harvest for millions of people? In the places where there is hunger. drought...floods...poverty.
You are there, God of Love, Christ of Compassion, Holy Spirit of Comfort in the normal everyday patterns of life, and we know there are many people in the faith communities; the humanitarian organisations; the charities who are working round the clock to alleviate suffering, to take help to those who are in need and then we give thanks.
People are striving for better days for the time when the hungry and thirsty have their needs met; for peace and reconciliation, and where that happens there you are in the midst, getting on with life.
Yes - God of Love, we and many others will stick in there too. Amen

Christian Aid was founded in 1945 by British and Irish churches to help refugees after the Second World War. Back then, they worked with partner churches to alleviate suffering by raising the equivalent of over £3 million in today’s money. They supported, equipped and enabled partner churches in mainland Europe to provide what people needed. Nearly 80 years later, they are doing the same.

Christian Aid say – ‘But hope does not disappoint. Hope lives in you. Every prayer, every gift, every action brings hope to people facing disaster, from conflict to climate chaos. Join us this Christian Aid Week as we celebrate and share hope with our sisters and brothers facing crisis around the world, from Ukraine to Zimbabwe.’

Our second video from Christian Aid, shared by them on YouTube, can be found here:


Take any gifts of money received this coming week and use them to help Christian Aid support communities throughout the world. But may our support not end here. May we be the seeds from which your kingdom grows. In our hunger for peace, we pray for the people of Ukraine, but may our concern for them not stifle our care for Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Syria and all those other places no longer in the news.


In our hunger for justice, we pray that you will fill us with your hope, your passion and your life, that we may go out from this place to give, act and pray.

In the name of Christ




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