Worship for Sunday 12th May 2024, by Rev. Catharine Hughes

Christian Aid Sunday

Our written worship this week is based on the order of service suggested by Christian Aid. This year they are sharing the story of Aline Nibogora from Makamba Province in Burundi. Married when she was still a child, Aline experienced domestic violence, homelessness, and extreme poverty. She was brought to a point where she says that ‘people forgot I was human’. But Aline’s love for her children, and her experience of God’s love, filled her with exceptional courage. She was determined to give her children a better life and to help her neighbours. 

The focus of our worship is on extraordinary love. God’s love for each of us exceeds what we can imagine. We are called to live out that love in service to one another.

Call to worship (based on 1 John 3.1)

We gather as children of God, bound to one another by love.

See what love the Father has given us.

We gather to live out our calling to love our neighbours and our enemies.

See what love the Father has given us.

We gather to experience in word and song, in prayer and worship,          

the overflowing compassion and tenderness of our God.

See what love the Father has given us.

Hymn: STF503 – Love Divine

Opening Prayer

Aline told Christian Aid: 

“God comforts you through troubled times and gives you hope for a better future.” 

Let us pray together with Aline and Christians around the world.


God our comforter,

Source of our hope,

Be present to us today.

Unite us as we worship.

Give us ears to hear the Good News of your abundant, transformative love.

Stir up in us a prophetic voice, that we may proclaim the coming of your kingdom.

Inspire in us the courage to serve you in word and deed,

as together we build a world free from poverty.


Prayer of confession

Creator God, you made us and cherish us as your beloved creation.

We confess that we have failed to care for the world you brought into being.

We have polluted the earth; we have consumed without thought for the future.

We have hardened our hearts

And turned away from communities devastated by the climate crisis.

Out of the greatness of your love.

Lord, forgive us.


Jesus, you call us to love our neighbour, to go the extra mile.

We confess that we have failed to love others as you love us.

Too often we have ignored cries for justice.

We have given our energies to protecting what is ours

And have failed to consider the needs of others.

Out of the greatness of your love.

Lord, forgive us.


Spirit of truth, you breathe wisdom upon us and guide our ways.

We confess those times we have relied on ourselves alone, as though we had no need of you;

Those times we have rejected the help our neighbours offer because it would cost us our pride.

We have declared ourselves dry ground, unable to grow the fruits of love, peace, joy and gentleness.

Yet through all our failings and faults you never leave us.

Out of the greatness of your love.

Lord, forgive us.

FILM – Christian Aid Week 2024


1 Corinthians 13.1-13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Mark 12.28-31

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

29 ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” 31 The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’

Hymn: STF 615 – Let love be real


Love is increasingly imaged in a saccharine manner: with hearts and flowers, romance and kisses and (yes) sex. Advertising bombards us with the image of the perfect relationship where all is sweetness and light, and never the bickering or disagreements that inflict us all. We could be forgiven for thinking that we are therefore at fault or sinful for having the arguments that inevitably we do. 

Yet Paul tells us of the essence of true love in the passage from Corinthians, for love overcomes all the differences that we have. It is love that enables us to sit in Church Council with people with diametrically opposed views. It is love that brings the diversity of our church congregations together, as witnessed by both rich and poor, black and white, kneeling side-by-side at the altar for communion.

Paul wrote this for the church at Corinth as part of his call for them to show unity in their diversity. Chapter 12 has the passage about us all being parts of the one body; chapter 14 tells of the ways in which we may share and show the spiritual gifts of prophecy and tongues, and then teaches about orderly worship. In the middle of this sits our reading from chapter 13. It is a challenge to the church to ask whether and how we are practising love both within and beyond our community. Are we a church that works to allow all human beings to flourish and share their diverse gifts? Do we share all that we have with those around us in a manner that is patient and kind, and that isn’t envious, boastful, proud, dishonourable, selfish, angry or grudge-bearing? Does our love protect others, trust, hope and persevere?

1 Corinthians 13 is a beautiful description of what love is – love for self, love for one another, love as we live in community. It is the ultimate expression of our faith. As it says elsewhere, ‘We love because God first loved us.’ (1 John 4.19) If our lives express just an ounce of the love that Paul expresses in this chapter then surely we will make a difference to our world. 

When the TV presenter Caroline Flack took her life in February 2020 there was an outcry for the tragic loss of a young life, associated with a campaign to #BeKind. She is quoted as having said, ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind.’ It is always good to be reminded that what we say or do has an impact on others, and we should be considerate in our words or tone.

Nevertheless, it is easy to have words – to say ‘I love you’ – but much more difficult to live it out in practice. For me, this passage is a case in point. As a teenager I chose to learn 1 Corinthians 13 off by heart, but despite forgetting much of it now, I fear that I am still better at reciting the words than putting it into practice. That can summarise faith for many of us. We tell God we love him, we share in worship, we long to be with him, but the practical, day-to-day living it out is so much harder!

Should we stop trying? Of course not! Paul could not restrict his description of the outworking of love to one or two words or sentences, and so neither shall we. Our lives are to be a continual outpouring of the love of God as best we can express it to those around us. It is the greatest commandment, and the greatest honour. 

‘These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love’.

To do:

Read 1 Corinthians 13.1-13 again, slowly. Pause at the end of each sentence, verse or phrase. Consider how you can reflect that in your life, in your church and before your God.

A prayer from Christian Aid:

Loving God,

you call on us to build your kingdom of justice, mercy, and truth.

It isn’t a task for the faint-hearted.

When we lose our sense of purpose, fill us with faith.

When we doubt or throw up our hands in despair, fill us with hope.

When we pass by our neighbour as though we did not know them, 

Fill us with the love that turns us back and takes us to their aid.

In Jesus’ name,


Hymn: The Song of Kingdom Come

Prayers of intercession

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

His love endures forever.


God we are thankful for your love: love that changes us, turns our priorities upside down, and yet somehow makes us more fully ourselves.

We offer our gratitude for those who have shown us tenderness, care and compassion;

Those who have seen us through troubled times and brought us hope.

We pray for those we love

And for those we have failed to love.

Remembering Aline’s experience, we hold in mind people around the world who know what it is to be treated as less than human.

May we work together to uphold the dignity of every human being, so that no one feels forgotten.


God we are thankful for those who inspire us with their strength, courage and perseverance.

We pray for people around the world brought to the brink by extreme poverty,

Struggling to survive.

We pray especially for families in Burundi who do not have sufficient food, clean water, or access to healthcare.

Fuel us with fire of your spirit.

Fill us with a fierce determination to end the outrage of poverty.

May we hear the cries of those who are excluded from power.

May we speak up with them for a more equal and just world.


God we are thankful for peacemakers and healers.

We pray for all those who are reaching across divisions and acting to end violent conflict.

May political leaders use their power wisely to further the cause of peace.

We pray especially for peace in the Middle East, an end to the war in Ukraine, those affected by conflict in Sudan and ongoing peace-making work in Burundi.

We remember with sorrow the lives lost in conflict.


God we are thankful for love in action.

We give thanks for the cake-bakers, the runners, the envelope-collectors.

We are grateful for those who give their time, energy and resources to sponsored walks, craft sales, sing-a-thons, cycles, swims, and to all kinds of fundraising challenges.

We pray that each of us may recognise the gifts we have to share,

And that we may see too the richness of our neighbour’s gifts and talents.

Help us to remember that ending poverty is not just about the things money can buy:

It’s also about the joyful living that you desire for each of us.

May we all be free to live life joyfully, in all its fullness.


God we are thankful that you offer comfort to us in our sorrows.

We give thanks that when everything else around us seems to crumble, you promise us that your love will remain solid and steadfast.

Thinking of all that Aline has been through, we pray for her, her children and her community.

We pray for others known to us who are suffering.

We pray for those who have lost someone they love.

May those who grieve know your peace.


We offer these prayers in Jesus’ name.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

His love endures forever.


The Lord’s Prayer (by Christian Aid staff from around the world)

Hymn: STF706 – Christ be our light


May we persevere in faith,

May we go out in hope,

May we act and speak with love,

By the grace of God, our creator, redeemer, and comforter,


Aline with her bicycle in Makamba Province, Burundi.


Christian Aid Week runs from 12-18 May 2024.

For further information about the work of Christian Aid, or to donate, visit their website: