‘Safeguarding Sunday’ – 10th October 2021 – 19th Sunday after Trinity

The Order of service

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21 10 10 Safeguarding Sunday 19th Sunday after Trinity Eucharist

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21 10 10 Safeguarding Sunday 19th Sunday after Trinity Eucharist

The Livestreaming link

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The Readings

Amos 5.6-7, 10-15
Seek the Lord and live,
   or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire,
   and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.
Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood,
   and bring righteousness to the ground!
They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
   and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
Therefore, because you trample on the poor
   and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
   but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
   but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions,
   and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
   and push aside the needy in the gate.
Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
   for it is an evil time.
Seek good and not evil,
   that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
   just as you have said.
Hate evil and love good,
   and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
   will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
Mark 10.17-31
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’
Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’
Scripture quotations are taken from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon

By Catherine B, a Reader at St. Mary's


Have any of you come across the Poverty and Justice Bible?  It’s a normal Bible, except that every reference to poverty or injustice is highlighted in red.  Over 2000 verses are highlighted; that’s a lot of red!
The people behind this Bible point out something central about God’s Holy Word: Poverty and Justice matter; they are at the heart of the Christian message.
Today’s readings are both "red-letter" passages.
The prophet Amos spoke out against the rulers of Israel.  They took grain taxes from the poor, yet built stone houses and pleasant vineyards for themselves.  Amos warns Israel of the consequences of ignoring God’s message.  They should turn away from evil and seek good.  He urges the rulers to establish justice.  If they do, God will be gracious to them.
They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
Amos spoke truth to power, but Israel took no notice.
What happened next?  Well, within 2 years, there was a devastating earthquake in the land.  And soon after that, Israel was taken over by the Assyrians.The Biblical writers clearly saw this as God’s justice on Israel.
Like Amos, Jesus also spoke truth to someone who did not want to hear.
The young man comes to Jesus, keen to know how to inherit eternal life.  He’s followed all the rules, and kept all the commandments!  All his life!  But it seems that although he’s followed them to the letter, he hasn’t taken on board what they mean.  He’s wealthy and isn’t sharing his good fortune.  Jesus gets to the heart of things.  “You lack just one thing.  Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor.  Then follow me.”
We don’t know the outcome of this story.  We know that the young man went away sad, but not what he did next.  Perhaps he couldn’t bear to contemplate what Jesus had said, so put it to the back of his mind and carried on much as before.  But perhaps, just perhaps, Jesus’ words stuck in his mind, nagged at his soul, refused to go away.  Perhaps this marked a turning point after which he started to think about those less fortunate than himself, and how his wealth might be used to help them.
Today is “Safeguarding Sunday”.  What comes to mind when you hear the word “safeguarding”?  You may think of all the form filling and safety checks necessary for working with young or vulnerable people.  You may think of the horrific news stories where children, women or other vulnerable people have been abused and killed.
But you may realise that Safeguarding is actually at the heart of the Christian message.  The word itself doesn’t appear in the Bible.  But it’s clear that enabling the poor and the vulnerable to thrive, and establishing justice for them is precisely what God wants.
God wants all people to thrive.  All people, but especially the poor and vulnerable, should be treated with love, compassion, respect and justice.  Where this is not happening, God wants their voices to be heard and acted upon.
So often this does not happen.  Institutions, including the Church, have failed vulnerable people over decades.  Abuse has happened. People have not been heard or believed.  There has been a culture of covering such things up.
What are God’s people to do to change this? How can we, to paraphrase Amos,
Seek good and not evil,
that we may live...
...hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate?
Well, thankfully the Church is now taking this matter much more seriously.  And we can all play our part in making our church communities places where everyone can grow and thrive.
We can learn about how society and institutions have failed the very vulnerable, but also how we can help change things for the better.  The Church of England has produced a very good on-line basic awareness course, and I’d encourage everyone with internet access to try it.  We can then share what we’ve learnt with others.
We can also offer financial support to charities that work with at-risk children or adult victims of abuse.
And we can be like Amos, and speak out on behalf of the voiceless to those in power.  We can be like Jesus, and care for the most vulnerable people in God’s world.

The Prayers
Prepared by David.

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

Grant us, Lord God,
a vision of your world as your love would have it:
A world where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor;
A world where the riches of creation are shared, and everyone can enjoy them;
A world where different races and cultures live in harmony and mutual respect;
A world where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love.
Give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the Church, for our Bishops, Pete and Sophie, for the communities served by St Mary’s, St Mark’s and St John’s. We give thanks for partnership working where joys may be shared together, and support found in times of sorrow.
Lord in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

On this safeguarding Sunday we come to you loving Father God,
in the knowledge that you hold all your children in unconditional love.
We lift to you those who are vulnerable and in need of protection.
Give them your safety, comfort and peace.
We cry to you for those who are hurting and whose trust has been broken.
Give them your healing, restoration and justice.
We bring to you those who seek to forgive others who have hurt them.
Give them your strength, courage and hope.
For those who by their actions or attitudes have caused hurt and harm to others,
lead them to seek your forgiveness and to enter into true repentance.
Thank you for all who give their time, knowledge, and skills to make our communities safer.
Give them your wisdom, guidance and grace.
For ourselves, we ask you to give us your heart for the vulnerable, the oppressed, the voiceless and the forgotten. Help us to see them as you see them; to value them as you value them, and to nurture and protect them as you desire.
Help each one of us play our part in creating safer places for all your people.
In your name we pray,
Lord in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who are ill at this time in body, mind or spirit. Grant them all your peace and healing presence. In a moment of quiet we think of those known to us who are in particular need at this time
Lord in your mercy:
Hear our prayer,

We pray for those who have died. We hold before God all those who we have known and loved and who have shaped our lives. We pray for those who have died unnoticed by all except for you O Lord. Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.
Lord in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

Merciful Father:
Accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Material used from thirtyone:eight, produced for Safeguarding Sunday.