18th Sunday after Pentecost

Lectionary 1st Reading Psalm 2nd Reading Gospel
Anglican lectionary:
Jeremiah 29:1,4-7
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19
Catholic lectionary:
2 Kings 5:14-17
Notes on each reading

Comments on Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

Climate Exiles

In this powerful letter to the exiles, God calls them to settle, to marry, to make homes and contribute to the well-being of the countries in which they are settling. One of the greatest impacts of climate change is migration. Climate change contributes to migration in many ways – from slow climatic changes, to massive disasters. In the case of a hurricane or massive flooding, people lose homes, infrastructures, savings and hope. Often the young people leave for the city, hunting for jobs. Climate change also contributes to slow changes, harvests fail on a more frequent occasion, fertile areas can no longer sustain small holder farms, and families are pushed off the land.It also contributes to violence, as once peaceful neighbours compete for scarce resources. Inhabitants of small island states are forced to leave their ancestral lands.

This message “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” is sent to the exiles.

But perhaps in today’s world, where there is so much xenophobia, so many political parties that are trying to gain power by attacking refugees, so much blame pushed on immigrants for crime and use of the nations social support system – this message is one for the receiving nations – let us allow refugees to build houses and settle down, to plant gardens and pray for the peace of the prosperity of the place to which they have come. Some of the greatest nations were built by refugees. Will we allow them to prosper, to help to build our cities and nations, to intermarry with our sons and daughters for as the prosper, so we will prosper too

Rev Rachel Mash, Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Comments on 1 Timothy 2:8-15

Dealing With False Teachers

14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarrelling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

In the climate change space one of the challenges we face is how to handle climate denialism and fake news. In South Africa we have been through this phenomenon before, as we lived through the era of AIDS denialism with a president who actively hunted the internet for alternative views and promoted denialist ‘scientists’ to his national advisory bodies.  As a result thousands of HIV positive people were denied access to anti-retroviral’s and told to take garlic, lemons and the famous ‘African potato’.

Climate change science is a science it is not a ‘belief’, you do not ‘believe’ in gravity – it just is. There is no scientific doubt now that the climate is changing, the fake news is more on the side of spreading doubt that it is caused by humans  -we hear it is a ‘natural’, ‘cyclic’ phenomenon.

How then do we address fake news?  

This passage gives us some good insights.

Firstly, let us not argue about words – there are some arguments – especially on social media that it best to let go – remembering that the more you argue the more free promotion you are giving to their views! Just agree to disagree and mute their voices!

Secondly, let us be workers who do not need to be ashamed and correctly handle the word of truth. During the era of AIDS denialism in South Africa, campaigners such as the Treatment Action Campaign brought in anti-retroviral, worked with NGOS to distribute them when the government wouldn’t, until the proof was so overwhelming that nobody could deny that they were saving hundreds of lives.

Let us go on doing what we have to do, with dignity, passion and conviction – and the truth will set us free.

Comments on Luke 17: 11 – 19

An Attitude of Gratitude

Out of ten lepers who are made clean, only one shows gratitude, and he is a Samaritan, an “unbeliever”. This is one of the gospel stories that breaks through the boundaries of Jesus’ mission to the People of Israel. The one sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel crosses this boundary again and again. And the leper who is healed shows his gratitude.

Gratitude is relevant to the issue of worldwide justice, peace and the integrity of creation, because it is gratitude that prompts us as Christians to work in and for the world. It is our gratitude for the loving acceptance of God, who loves us despite of all the things that separate us from Him. And it is our gratitude for nurturing us day by day. Here in Western Europe, most of us have far more than our daily bread, we are not subject to state despotism, nor are our lives in danger as is the case for so many people in other parts of the world, and was once the case for our forebears here, too. Gratitude for God’s loving affection and for the bountiful care which we are privileged to receive can be a powerful motivation to take action for others and for creation.

To this end we need to call our privileged circumstances to mind time and again. We are in a similar situation to the leper who was made clean – freed from the huge burdens of life. Gratitude is not something that can be forced. And, as the story stresses, it is perhaps always the mindset of a minority. But in my opinion it is one of the gifts of God’s spirit that Christians can ask to receive.

Dr Michael Gaertner , Protestant Landeskirche of the Palatinate resp. the Evangelical Church of the Palatinate(translated by Anja Huebel)

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