Season of Creation 1 – 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Anglican lectionary:
Catholic lectionary:
1st Reading
Prov 22:1-2,8-9,22-23
Isa 35:4-7a
2nd Reading
Jas 2:1-17
Jas 2:1-5
Mark 7:24-37


“Oikos-nomos”- the rules for the home.

The word ‘economy’ comes from two Greek words – oikos-nomos, which means the rules of the household. Economics is not an academic subject for the experts, for when we speak of God’s economy we are speaking of the rules of the home, the world in which we live, work and die. Economics means the way that people relate to each other and who has control of resources. We might consider economics to be a ‘secular’ issue – but Jesus spoke more about money than he did about prayer. He recognised the power of ‘mammon’ over human beings.

Our current economic system has led to gross inequalities. The world’s richest one percent have more than twice as much wealth as the poorest 6.9 billion people! The South African riots and looting of July 2021 were fuelled by anger at unemployment, hunger and inequality.

Rather than paying more tax, the wealthy and their corporations are paying the lowest levels of tax in decades. As governments cut tax for the rich, they reduce money for vital services like healthcare and education. We now have a globalised competitive market, where businesses, forced to compete internationally, reduce labour costs by all means, in order to provide profit to keep the shareholders rich. Nations which used to have thriving industrial sectors outsource their production to nations where workers are paid slave salaries. These dynamics lead to poverty and inequality. The rich earn interest from shares and the poor pay interest on ever increasing debt. More and more national income goes to company profits and shareholders with less and less money going to the workers.

Because of the competitive global market, countries and businesses seek permanent growth – leading to devastation of the Earth’s biodiversity and increasing climate change, as more and more fossil fuels are burnt to produce cheap energy.

The oikos-nomos are the rules that should guide our common home in the places where ordinary people live. It is here that the effects of economics are felt most deeply. During COVID casual workers were made destitute while stocks in internet-based companies soared. The economics of God should focus on meeting the needs of the whole family, rather than meeting GDP targets.

Our global economic system must be tested against God’s justice, the lives of the poor and the wellbeing of the earth community – and it is falling short. People and planet must now come before profit.

Rev Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator – Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Please go to for more resources for the Season of Creation

God’s Economy


by Rev Sabelo Mthimkhulu, Diocese of Natal
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23

Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. Prov 22: 2

At first glance it seems the writer is suggesting that since God is the God of both rich and poor, it doesn’t matter to God whether you suffer in poverty or enjoy great wealth. Too often such ideas can undermine a concern for the poor, leading to questions such as:

  • Does God not care whether I walk 10 km to school or get driven for 1 km or less to school?
  • Does it not matter whether I use 5 litres of water or 100 litres of water to bath?
  • Does it not matter whether I have a smartphone and laptop or have no phone?

However, the writer is alert to what we would today call the prosperity gospel. The writer reminds us that to share one’s food with the poor will lead to blessing (v 9). Those who give to the poor (v 9) will gain a blessing, as opposed to those who lend money, causing debt (v 7). The generous one (v 9) is the one with a ‘good eye’ – meaning a person who sees and takes note of the needs of the poor. A person with a ‘good eye’ does not t just send a cheque to a faceless cause, they feel the pain and have compassion.

It is interesting to read that the generous soul ‘shares’ rather than ‘gives’, this indicates that they may not have an abundance of wealth, but they give because they see the pain of the poor. By inviting the poor to their own table, they are nourishing the dignity of the poor – there is a relationship between them.

In verse 23 the LORD takes up the cause of the poor, God “prosecutes” the legal cases of the poor, seizing the financial assets of the abusive, wealthy defendants.

If we were to follow the rules of God’s household, we would know that we are all equal and all made in God’s image. God’s rules show that those who share are blessed, and that God stands firmly on the side of the poor, and judges those who abuse the vulnerable.

In God’s economy there is to be a secure and just home for all.

Psalm 125

The sceptre of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, Psalm 125:3

The psalmist reminds the wicked that their power is temporary at best (v 3) and that evildoers will be banished from the land which is the place of Yahweh’s promise (v 5).

Verse 2 shows that God is the sovereign over all of Creation and firmly on the side of those who are exploited, hungry or imprisoned (v 4-5).

God advocates for the alien, the orphan and the widow, these three categories are consistently spoken of in Scripture. These are the vulnerable – not only do they need food security, but they also need advocates to stand up for their rights.

James 2: 1-10, 14-17

If you show special attention to the person wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor person, “Sit on the floor by my feet” James 2:3

The writer offers a direct challenge to the favouritism shown to the wealthy especially in the church. Such favouritism runs counter to the way of God who chose those in the margins, those the community perceives to be “shabby and unclean”. We are challenged to join God on the margins, displaying our commitment in action. God turns our social systems upside down, for God has chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom (v 5).

The common impulse to show generous hospitality to those who need it the least and can repay it, or to give priority to the wealthy in the church as they are more likely to give more in pledges, goes against the values of the kingdom.

True faith will lead to a difference in lifestyle and change our relationship with our sisters and brothers. Those who are needy and broken show us the good news of the kingdom.

V 15-17 is a direct challenge to us in a world of climate injustice. It is not enough to send ‘thoughts and prayers’ to those impacted by drought or extreme weather events.

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2: 15-17

In a world of climate injustice, where careless use of fossil fuels leads to insecurity, disaster, and suffering for the world’s poor and marginalised, we can no longer send ‘thoughts and prayers’ to those who are victims of drought and extreme weather events. We must do something, take action, both in terms of our carbon footprint, but also to pressurize our church institutions, our politicians and our businesses to hear the cry of the poor and hungry.

Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?” v 6

For those of us who live comfortable lives, we can no longer live as if we are ignorant of the links between our comforts – built on exploitative and unsustainable economic practices – and the suffering of the poor.

Mark 7:28-29

“Lord heal the Sick, heal the Poor, heal our Land”

Mark has placed two healing stories together – the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter and the deaf-mute man. These two healings take place as Jesus moves from Jewish territory (the centre) to Gentile territory (the margins).

The Syrophoenician woman and her daughter both inhabit the margins of society: firstly, they are women and secondly, they are gentiles, and as such, considered unclean. Thirdly the daughter has demons which makes her doubly unclean.

Regardless of all these barriers, the woman risks rejection and comes to Jesus and asks him to heal her daughter. Disturbingly, Jesus seems to discourage her, and even refers to her as the “dog”. Not deterred, she politely uses his own argument to convince him “Sir, even the little dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”.

The deaf-mute man is also a gentile. Once again boundaries are crossed as Jesus spits on his fingers and touches the man’s tongue at a time when saliva was considered unclean. But as was the case with the Jewish leper in Mk 1:40, the contagion is reversed, and the man healed.

These two healings demonstrate that Jesus’ mission reaches both Jews and Gentiles, ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’, but with a particular concern for the marginalized.

God does not conform to the norms of human institutions, whether religious, social, or political.

Which are the marginalized voices that we should listen to today? Sometimes we are tempted to move directly to advocacy – to speak for the voiceless, which can lead to them being further disempowered. In this gospel we see how Jesus was willing not only to listen to but also to learn from someone who was excluded and marginalized.

These two healing stories show how Jesus heard the voices of the marginalised. Jesus allows himself and his ministry to be transformed by the plea of the Syrophoenician woman. It is hard to understand why he uses such a derogatory word, but in referring to her as the ‘dog’ he is reflecting the views of his society and social group and is challenged by her reply. In the healing of the deaf mute – a man whose voice cannot be heard, Jesus extends the realm of God to the least noticed, those pushed to the periphery. This extension of God’s kingdom to those on the margins serves as a challenging model for the church.

Not only was the Syrophoenician woman a marginalized foreigner, she was also a woman and as such considered second class or less. Across the world, the role of woman and girls as Earth protectors is being recognised. Whereas men often see biodiversity as something to be exploited for cash, women gather herbs for healing, wood for shelter and fuel, as well as plants and herbs for food, and are committed to protecting it. Women are rising and challenging powerful structures, for the sake of their children and for Mother Earth.

Jon Sobrino suggests “from the world of the poor and the victims can come salvation for a gravely ill civilization”. Do we too easily assume that “salvation comes” when we, the church, draw people from the periphery into the centre? Like many models of “development” which assume that the solution to the ills of poverty is to make everyone rich, do we similarly assume that those on the margins just need to be a bit more like us, the mainstream church, in order to be saved? Are we perhaps challenged by these stories of Jesus going into Gentile territory, healing there and, as we read in chapter 8, eventually feeding the Gentile multitude there too?

For all the talk (and some activism) about addressing poverty, many of us still participate day by day in the system that continues to push the poor, the earth and its creatures to the margins. We participate in systems that generate extreme scarcities, dehumanize people, and destroy the community of all Creation.

Is Jesus inviting us to follow him to the margins? Perhaps he is challenging us to allow ourselves to be challenged and transformed, as he was by the Syrophoenician woman. Is he inviting us to participate in the work of healing, not from our comfortable position at the centre, but by going out to the margins?

Many churches are involved in relief efforts, when we hear of a hurricane or drought made worse by climate change, in the face of media photos we give, we donate, and we pray. We must also support developmental projects assisting people to adapt to climate change (for instance water tanks in drought areas, agro-forestry efforts.) But we also need to challenge the structural injustices and root causes of climate change and environmental degradation. We need to re-activate the prophetic voice of the church, particularly by amplifying the voices of women and youth. And we must be willing to be converted ourselves, by the voices of the marginalised.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are being neutral in the situation of injustice, you have already chosen the side of the oppressor”. Are we being called out to a new promised land? – the Land located in the margins?


‘The Oikos Journey’: A theological reflection on the Economic Crisis in South Africa 2006. Diakonia Council of Churches

Dewey, John. 2006. Women in the Gospel of Mark. Word and World 26.1: 22 -29.

Myers, C., 2019. Binding the strong man: A political reading of Mark’s story of Jesus. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York.

Sobrino, J., 2015. No salvation outside the poor: Prophetic-utopian essays. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York.

Season of Creation Resource Guide 2021

Creation Time 2018. Churches together in Britain and Ireland



God, Creator of our common home, your boundless love includes everyone.

Open our hearts and minds to your generous will
that we may proclaim Christ’s love and justice through words and actions.

May we serve the needs of our neighbours within the Community of all Creation
and may justice flow down like rivers.


Gathering in God’s name

Kyrie Eleison

You delight in creation, its colour and diversity.
Yet we have misused the earth
And plundered its resources for our own selfish ends.
Lord, have mercy
Lord have mercy

You have showered us with blessings, but we have been grudging towards others
and lacking in generosity in word and deed
Christ, have mercy
Christ, have mercy

Act of Penitence

Lord, you have given us a world full of rich resources to feed us all
and to provide us with all that the body and mind could need
Yet the poor are still with us, deprived of food, of home, of education and dignity; deprived of healing and of hope.

Forgive our inhumanity.
Forgive our selfishness and greed
Forgive our church life and our home life
Forgive us for leaving Christ unfed, unhoused, without healing and without hope.
Forgive us and bring ourselves and our possessions back to you.
In Christ’s name


(Season of Creation 4)

Responding to the Word of God

Affirmation of Faith

We are not alone; we live in God’s world.
We believe in God: who has created and is creating,
who works in others and us through the Spirit.
We trust in the Creator.
We are called to be,
to celebrate God’s presence,
to live with respect in creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and to resist injustice,
to seek out models for hope and peace
We are not alone

(United Church of Canada)

Prayers of the People

God of all hopefulness, we bring before You our concerns for the world and her people.
Gracious God, we turn to You,
For You are the source of our hope and the creator of the Kingdom.

We pray for parents around the world who reach out in hope for their children. We pray for justice:
when they struggle to provide food for their families;
when they cannot find a place to make a home for their children.
Gracious God, we turn to You,
For You are the source of our hope and the creator of the Kingdom.

We pray for those who find themselves on the margins of their societies. We pray for justice:
that they might confront centres of power with the experience of life on the margins;
that they might be allowed to contribute to the welfare of society;
that we may all be enriched by the insights and wisdom they bring to our communities.
Gracious God, we turn to You,
For You are the source of our hope and the creator of the Kingdom.

We pray for our common home and all who seek to ensure its wellbeing.
We pray for justice:
that all nations of the world will work together for the common good of each person and our planet;
that conservation will enable habitats to flourish while meeting the needs of local communities;
that we each understand the impact we have upon the earth and adjust our lifestyle accordingly.
Gracious God, we turn to You,
For You are the source of our hope and the creator of the Kingdom.

We pray for ourselves,
Disturb us and disquiet us with a passion for justice.
Challenge us to grasp a vision of Your new world and motivate us to act to birth it into being.
Enable us to pass on the gift of hope, so others are empowered to continue the journey of faith.
Gracious God, we turn to You,
For You are the source of our hope and the creator of the Kingdom.

(Scottish Eco-congregation 2018 adapted)

Celebrating at the table

Invitation to Communion

As the grain once scattered in the fields
And the grapes once dispersed on the hillside
Are now reunited on this table in bread and wine;
So, Lord may your whole Church soon be gathered together from the corners of the earth

(Church of England, Common Worship)

Sending out

Loving Father,
your Son gave us this meal as an act of remembrance of him,
and then gave his very self for our salvation.
We thank you for the nourishment we receive at your table
and pray that the strength we receive here,
might give us the courage to share our very selves with those in need;
through the Lord who shared himself for our sake.

God the Creator has blessed you with all that you need in this life:
Go into the world with courage that you might be the channels through which the Lord can bring relief to others;
and the blessing of the Creator God,
the Eternal Father, the Risen Son and the Promised Holy Spirit
bless you that you might be a blessing to others today and always. Amen


Music and Hymns from Climate Sunday

The Justice song

Beauty for brokenness, Graham Kendrick

Who can sound the depths of sorrow?

Let justice roll like a river

The Kingdom of God is justice and peace (Taize)

Selection from Methodist Church

by Rev Sabelo Mthimkhulu, Natal