Birchat Ha-Chodesh Blessing for the New Month
(Jewish prayer prayed on the Sabbath before the beginning of the next Biblical month, at the end of the worship service.)
O Lord our God and God of our fathers, draw us closer to Yourself in this coming month, and bring us goodness and blessing!
Grant us fullness of life in the Messiah; life filled with His peace, with His goodness, with His joy, with His strength, with His righteousness and with His blessing!
Grant us a life in which our needs are met; a life filled with greater love for You and Your word, a life in which our duty to glorify You is fulfilled!
May You who redeemed our ancestors from slavery, and who redeems us from sin and death, and gives us eternal life, soon gather Your people from the four corners of the Earth, and bring us together under the kingship of Messiah Yeshua!
May the Holy One, blessed be He, bless this new month for us, and for His people Israel, and for all peoples everywhere, and especially for Messiah’s Holy Community with life, peace, joy and gladness, salvation and blessing! And let us say, amayn!
Rabbi Loren Jacobs
Founder of “Congregation Shema Yisrael Messianic Synagogue”
||“There is no other door to knowledge than the door nature opens; there is no truth except the truths we discover in nature.”
||God of life,
we praise you for the beauty of creation, its richness and variety;
yet, through greed and ignorance, we scar your world with plastic waste
and throw so much away.
Make us more like Jesus, treading gently on our common home,
and breathe your Spirit on us,
that we may care more deeply for your Earth.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.
AmenBishop of Dudley
God challenges Job
Job 39:1-8 The Message
1-4 “Do you know the month when mountain goats give birth?
Have you ever watched a doe bear her fawn?
Do you know how many months she is pregnant?
Do you know the season of her delivery,
when she crouches down and drops her offspring?
Her young ones flourish and are soon on their own;
they leave and don’t come back.
5-8 “Who do you think set the wild donkey free,
opened the corral gates and let him go?
I gave him the whole wilderness to roam in,
the rolling plains and wide-open places.
He laughs at his city cousins, who are harnessed and harried.
He’s oblivious to the cries of teamsters.
He grazes freely through the hills,
nibbling anything that’s green
For the Beauty of the Earth
For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.
For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flow’r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light,
For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild,
Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1835-1917
||“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.”
Henry David Thoreau
||“The world made specially for the uses of man? Certainly not. No dogma taught by the present civilisation forms so inoperable an obstacle to a right understanding of the relations which human culture sustains to wildness. Yet it is taught from century to century as something ever new and precious, and in the resulting darkness the enormous conceit is allowed to go unchallenged.”
||God the Holy Spirit
Come as the wind and cleanse us;
Come as the fire and burn;
Come as the dew and refresh; Convict, convert and concentrate many hearts and lives to your greater glory and our greater good.
This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ.Amen.
Climate Change and Social Justice
“If human beings were to treat one another’s personal property the way they treat the natural environment, we would view that behaviour as anti-social and illegal. We would expect legal sanctions and even compensation. When will we learn that to commit a crime against the natural world is also a sin?”
“The way we respond to the natural environment is directly reflects the way we treat human beings. The willingness to exploit the environment is revealed in the willingness to permit avoidable human suffering. So the survival of the natural environment is also the survival of ourselves. When we will understand that a crime against nature is a crime against ourselves and sin against God?”
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
World Population Day
World Population Day seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, was established by the then-Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989, an outgrowth of the interest generated by the Day of Five Billion, which was observed on 11 July 1987.
For several years population has been increasing faster than many vital non-renewable and renewable resources. This means the amount of these resources per person is declining, despite modern technology. Human overpopulation is among the most pressing environmental issues, silently aggravating the forces behind:
- Water shortages
- Species Extinction
- Habitat loss
- Increased Global Warming and Climate Change
- Acidifying oceans
- Invasive species
- Over-exploitation of natural resources
- Rain forest destruction
- Toxic waste
- Urban sprawl
- More Intensive Farming Practices
- Elevated Crime Rate
- Political instability
However, ecological issues are just the beginning. Two billion people live in poverty, more than the population of the entire planet less than 100 years ago. Today there are more people suffering in misery and starvation in the world than ever before in history.
Pray for ways to meet this enormous and urgent challenge with perceptive dignity and understanding.
||“The whole universe in its wholeness more perfectly shares in and represents the divine goodness than any one creature by itself.”
SDG Goal #12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Sustainable consumption and production is about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Its implementation helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty.
Sustainable consumption and production aims at “doing more and better with less,” increasing net welfare gains from economic activities by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the whole lifecycle, while increasing quality of life. It involves different stakeholders, including business, consumers, policy makers, researchers, scientists, retailers, media, and development cooperation agencies, among others.
It also requires a systemic approach and cooperation among actors operating in the supply chain, from producer to final consumer. It involves engaging consumers through awareness-raising and education on sustainable consumption and lifestyles, providing consumers with adequate information through standards and labels and engaging in sustainable public procurement, among others.
Prayerfully reflect on this
Shark Awareness Day
Contrary to expectations, the purpose of Shark Awareness Day is not to stand on the beach and shout out warnings to terrified swimmers and surfers, despite the hours of innocent fun that can provide.
It’s true that sharks are impressive hunters and predators, yet the sad fact remains that these magnificent creatures are more threatened by people than we are by sharks. The worldwide demand for shark-fin soup, shark-tooth medallions, and a false sense of security on beaches everywhere, all combine to leave sharks persecuted and endangered, with millions of them being killed each year.
Like top predators in any ecosystem, sharks play an essential role in keeping the seas healthy and productive. Whilst no-one is suggesting we go out and hug a Great White on Shark Awareness Day, it’s the least we can do to respect these wonderful creatures and let them be.
||Loving God, open our hearts that we may feel the breath and play of your Spirit.
Unclench our hands that we may reach out to one another and touch and be healed.
Open our lips, that we may drink in the delight and wonder of life.
Unclog our ears, to hear your agony in our inhumanity.
Open our eyes, that we may see Christ in friend and stranger.
Breathe your Spirit into us and touch our lives with the life of Christ.A prayer from New Zealand
Read Mark 4:26-34
“What can we say the kingdom of God is like?”
“In this reading we see how Jesus draws an interesting parallel between the Kingdom of God and how the smallest of all seeds grows to be the biggest of garden plants.
In some ways we can see the mustard seed as being the sprinklings of the word of God on us, and the result being the power it gives us as humans to transform the world into a better place. We are also reminded that no matter how small our good deeds may be, through the grace of God, they could make a huge difference in the lives of others. Even something as small as signing a petition to support our brothers and sisters living in poverty overseas.
For example, for months almost a thousand people in the Mauá community in Sao Paulo, Brazil, lived in fear of being thrown out of their homes and onto the streets. But, over 4,000 of you took one small action – signing a petition, sending an email or posting on social media – calling for a halt to the eviction.
These small actions boosted an international campaign. And now, hundreds of families have a roof over their head for good.
Throughout this reading, a common theme is growth, and transformation. We see how the seed grows into a harvest, and how the mustard seed grows into the largest garden plant.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should also seek to grow in our faith and good deeds even if it is just one small step at a time.”
We pray for God’s word and good seeds in us to grow and transform us into better people who love our struggling brothers and sisters across the world. Amen
This reflection and prayer were written by Mia Olorunfemi, from St Patrick Holy Cross parish in Plumstead.
The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and part of Caritas International. Charity no 1160384 and company no 09387398. © CAFOD 2018. www,cafod.org
||“God who created us has granted us the faculty of speech that we might disclose the counsels of our hearts to one another and that, since we possess our human nature in common, each of us might share his thoughts with his neighbour, bringing them forth from the secret recesses of the heart as from a treasury.”
Saint Basil of Caesarea (4th century)
Nelson Mandela Day
No matter how small your action, Mandela Day is about changing the world for the better, just as Nelson Mandela did every day.
What are you doing to make the world a better place?
What are you doing to make every day a Mandela Day by taking action against poverty which ultimately benefits the environment?
Pope Francis – Laudato Si
“49. It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage. Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile. This is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality. At times this attitude exists side by side with a “green” rhetoric. Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
Prayerfully reflect on this
||Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with us.
Let there be love on earth, and let it begin in our hearts.
Let there be miracles on earth, and let them begin with our faith.
Let there be a future for humankind, and may it begin with our actions now.
St Patrick’s Breastplate
(This prayer draws on the whole of Creation. It is said to have been spoken by St Patrick when chased by men who wanted to kill him, drawing upon the skills and powers of nature to save him. There are several versions. This one is also a hymn.)
I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger
||Lord, we pray for the scientists engaged in research into ways of reducing our carbon footprint and for politicians who are responsible for converting their ideas into legislation. Grant them honesty, integrity and a deep perception of the long-term effects of their actions, so that short-term economics are not allowed to weigh their decisions when so much hangs on policies which will affect generations to come.
SDG Goal #3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages is essential to sustainable development. Significant strides have been made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality. Major progress has been made on increasing access to clean water and sanitation, reducing malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, many more efforts are needed to fully eradicate a wide range of diseases and address many different persistent and emerging health issues.
Prayerfully reflect on this
||“Then (Jesus) said to them ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ ”
The Natural World
John Dear invites us into a peaceful, nonviolent way of living with creation:
To grow in deeper, loving awareness of our sisters and brothers, the beautiful creatures, and wonders of creation, we practice the art of mindfulness. That means we try not to live in the past or stew over the future. We give ourselves to the present moment of peace and return to the gentleness of our breath as a way to return to the present moment, the eternal now. The Buddhists teach mindful living, mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful working. Every moment becomes an opportunity to step into the present moment of peace.
“We are speaking of an attitude of the heart,” Pope Francis writes, “one which approaches life with serene attentiveness, which is capable of being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next, which accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full. Jesus taught us this attitude when he invited us to contemplate the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, or when seeing the rich young man and knowing his restlessness, ‘he looked at him with love’ (Mk 10:21). He was completely present to everyone and to everything, and in this way, he showed us the way to overcome that unhealthy anxiety which makes us superficial, aggressive and compulsive consumers.”
Putting on the mind of the nonviolent Christ and practicing his nonviolence, we learn to contemplate the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. When he rose from the dead, he gave his friends the gift of resurrection peace, breathed on them, and said receive the Holy Spirit. He sent them on a global mission of peace and nonviolence. We try to follow Jesus by welcoming that gift of resurrection peace, breathing in his Holy Spirit, and walking in his footsteps in his kingdom of nonviolence. In that mindfulness, everyone shines like the sun.
We recognize every human being as a sister and brother, every creature as a gift from God, and Mother Earth as a treasure to be honoured and cared for. We too learn to walk mindfully on earth in the present moment of peace. As we do, we not only non-cooperate with injustice and environmental destruction, model gospel nonviolence, and seek justice and peace for everyone, we help everyone step into the present moment of peace, the kingdom of God. Along the way, we discover that we have already entered eternal life. Eternity has begun. We are here, on earth, in the peaceful presence of the Creator.
Centre for Action and Contemplation
||“…everything has a right to be recognized and revered. Trees have tree rights, insects have insect rights, rivers have river rights, and mountains have mountain rights.”
in The Great Work
||“There is no denying that the accelerated rate of population growth brings many added difficulties to the problems of development when the size of the population grows more rapidly than the quantity of available resources.”
Pope Paul VI
||Father, forgive us for our greed and for the part we have played in so much destruction in your world. Forgive us for the way we have exploited the world’s resources for ourselves while so many lack the basic necessities. Create in us a new heart and a new determination to follow a lifestyle that is gentle to the earth and just to the poor.
International Friendship Day
In honour of Friendship Day in 1998, Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations.
Have you chatted to your friends today?