Fairtrade – Take a step

Have you ever asked yourself – What can I do to make the world a fairer place?

Or

Do you feel that you are powerless to make a difference in a suffering world?

Well there is some good news, you can do something, you can make a difference by buying Fairtrade products.

Fairtrade Fortnight runs from Monday 27th February to Sunday 11th of March this year so our meeting today is slap bang in the middle of the fortnight. As we have members of the Matlock Fairtrade Town group in our midst we considered the emphasis that there is on justice and fairness in the bible.

We heard that Jim Wallis ( Sojourners, Washington DC ) when he was studying at seminary had first come across the idea of a God who cared about the welfare of the poor and needy. He was told on his return to his home church that those ideas were not Christian but Communist. He returned to seminary and to make the point that justice was an important Biblical theme cut out all the passages from the bible that referred to justice,  injustice, the poor, the oppressed, the needy etc – the resulting bible was in shreds.

Here are some examples:

Deut 16:20  Follow justice and justice alone, …………..

Psalm 33:  The Lord loves righteousness and justice, ………..

Psalm 82:   Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless, maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.

Psalm 106:  Blessed are they who uphold justice, ………..

Prov 29:  The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no concern.

Prov 31:  Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, ………….defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Isaiah 1:  Seek justice,  encourage the oppressed, defend the fatherless and ……the widow.

Isaiah 5:  The Lord looked for justice, but saw bloodshed and heard cries of distress.

Isaiah 58:  Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice,…… and set the oppressed free……………..

Isaiah 61:  For I, the Lord, love justice………

Jer 22: Woe to those who build houses by injustice, not paying workers for their labour.

Eze 18: Suppose there is a man who does what is just and right……..

Amos 5: Let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never failing stream.

Micah 6:  What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Zech 7:  Administer true justice, show mercy and compassion. Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor.

Matt 5:  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice…………….

Matt 23:  Woe to you Teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices……….. But you neglect the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness.

So caring about the needs of the poor, powerless and oppressed is central to the message given by the God of the bible. As Christians we should be instrumental in campaigning against injustice.

              Bring Justice, Lord.

              God the Holy Spirit,

              You are the restless breath of love that sweeps through the world.

              You move where you will, breaking down barriers,

              Stirring hearts to change, making all things possible.

              Inspire each one of us to hunger and thirst for justice!

              Come, Spirit of God,

              Sweep through our world bringing great change.

              May the bounty of your goodness be shared more justly,

              So all may share in the rich blessings of your creation.

              And, for us, bring transformation in our praying and living,

              So that we may act justly, love mercy,

              And walk humbly with you all the days of our lives.  Amen.

The Treasure Hunt

There are times when you wonder how mad we might be for meeting outside and this morning was one of those. Special parcels had been hidden around the park for us to find, aided by a map. The heavy rain made this exercise less enjoyable than it would have been, but it may prove to be one of those memorable moments when we look back.

Each parcel contained a Fairtrade chocolate bar, some bigger than others. Congratulations Michele – we are not too jealous!

The plan had been to consider what step we might take to make our world a fairer place, whilst walking slowly and finding our hidden parcel.  The rain may have prevented our slow walking, but it will not dampen our enthusiasm for bringing about the Kingdom of God through justice and fairness.

We need to ask ourselves continually what steps we can take to try to make real;

YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IN HEAVEN.

We also heard a quote from Alan Duncan about the political and business sense of Fairtrade.

Transcript of Alan Duncan, Minister of State for the Department for International Development

Fairtrade has shown its ability to deliver results, it’s a great example of partnership between consumers, producers, businesses, NGOs and governments delivering more value into developing countries and ensuring that trade contributes to improving education, health and employment, in those countries. I’ve had 20 years in international business, and I’d like to think that you cannot pull the wool over my eyes. And I’ve sensed that some people just remain a little bit sceptical about the real, practical justification for the whole Fairtrade concept. So let them hear it from me today, from a source they simply cannot challenge on these business terms, I say this; don’t scoff at Fairtrade. Those who sneer at Fairtrade and think it’s some sort of soppy, do-gooding trendy left-wing notion; are completely wrong. It is a robust economic model which delivers direct benefits to some of the world’s poorest people. It injects fairness and sensible economics into business communities in poor countries. And it rewards hard work and quality produce, with a fair price. And everyone should support it.

Liturgy for sharing bread and wine.

We believe that bread comes from grain

that grows in the wind and the sun and the rain

with the farmers’ help.

We believe that bread comes from love

the love of God

the love of the farmer

the love of the baker’s hands

the love of those who bring it to us.

We believe that bread can be

and should be broken

and shared

and given to all persons

until all have enough.

We believe that Jesus loved bread

and took it

and broke it

and blessed it

and gave it to his disciples.

We believe enough in bread

to want to receive it from Jesus

to want it to nurture us.

We want to be bread for others.

We believe the Spirit will help us.

 Amen.

 As with the bread we believe that Jesus loved wine

and poured it

and blessed it

and gave it to his disciples.

We believe enough in wine

to want to receive it from Jesus

to want it to nurture us.

We want to be poured out for others.

We believe the Spirit will help us.

 Amen.

(from Frank Henderson, Liturgy & Social Justice)

            

BLESSINGS.

            As we receive your blessings, O Lord,

             May we bless our park,

            Our town and our nation.

            And may our choices bring blessings on

            Your Earth and all its people.

            In the name of the Creator,

            Redeemer and Sustainer of all.

            Amen.

 

                  (United Reformed Church)

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