Sermon for 2014 Annual Service

The Sermon given by the Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS at St Woolos Cathedral, Newport accompanied by Intercessions from Revd Professor Martin Henig


ASWA Service – Newport Cathedral

Sermon - Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS - Sunday 5 October 2014

 

I don’t suppose the name of Jack Swart will be known to many of you, but Jack Swart was a South African prison guard who worked at the prison on Robbin Island, off the coast of Cape Town.  Robbin Island was used as a prison to house many who opposed apartheid and were deemed to be terrorists and enemies of the State.  Among the prisoners that Jack Swart guarded was one, Nelson Mandela.  As far as Jack was concerned, Mandela was just another dangerous prisoner and trouble maker.  For him, being a prison guard was just a job and he wasn’t interested in the prisoners as people and had certainly never listened to their stories.

 

But all that changed in 1988, when Jack was assigned to cook for Mandela.  He saw it as something of a demotion but in the two years that they were together, something happened.  The change was so profound that Jack Swart and Nelson Mandela became close friends and Mandela joked that people only came to see him because the meals were so good. Jack came to describe Nelson Mandela as his brother and was proud to be photographed with him.

 

I tell you this story because the readings today are about relationships and how we sometimes fail to reverence one another as brothers and sisters of the same heavenly Father. In the Epistle, St Paul describes his Jewish background and how he regarded Christians – in fact, he regarded them not unlike Jack Swart regarded the prisoners on Robbin Island – they were inferior because they belonged to a different group. And the Gospel reading shows how the wicked tenants regarded the landlord’s servants – the tenants were so preoccupied with self interest that they did not regard the landlord’s servants or even his son as deserving respect and reverence as fellow human beings.

 

And yet, and yet, the Christian faith is all about relationships.  At the heart of our faith is the belief in the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit bound together in a dynamic unity of love.  Much of the teaching in the Bible is about how to have a right relationship with God, with one another and with creation.

 

At this Eucharist we shall follow the ancient custom of sharing the Peace with one another because if we cannot recognise Christ in one another, we don’t have a chance of recognising the risen Christ in the consecrated bread and wine. But it is not just a matter of recognising God’s presence in one another, we also need to recognise his presence in all his creation for ‘God so loved the world’ – the cosmos – and not just human beings. At this time of year, the Church celebrates the Feast of St Francis of Assisi who is remembered for his love for the poor and for animals and all creation. 

 

This is also the time of year when many churches celebrate Harvest Festival, but I have lost count of the number of Harvest Festival services I have attended where the congregation has been invited to thank God for the farmers and the fruits of the earth but animals are never mentioned – not even at Harvest Festival let alone n the prayers on ordinary Sundays throughout the year - and yet Jesus teaches us that not one sparrow falls to the ground without his heavenly Father’s knowledge.

 

About 20 years ago, I was asked to be chairman of the ASWA – I was told that there was a young, new enthusiastic secretary and a new treasurer and a recent legacy would help to make the Society better known among Anglicans.  I was told that its mission was to put animals on the church’s agenda because they had been sadly neglected.  Thanks to the amazing work and dedication of others, the ASWA has grown and grown and now produces publications, speakers and events to encourage Christians to have a proper relationship with the environment and in particular with other sentient beings – God’s animals.

 

But there is still a long way to go.  It is fine to have pet blessing services and to give thanks for companion animals, although I am always cautious of small boys who come up with cardboard boxes with air holes and which might contain a pet snake or a tropical spider.  Companion animals are a great blessing to many and are usually treated with kindness – but so much suffering takes place elsewhere where animals are intensively ‘factory farmed’ in unnatural environments and out of sight, where animals are transported huge distances in cramped conditions, where animals are used in laboratory experiments or where wild animals are used to entertain human beings.

 

I said that the Christian faith is about relationships – our relationship with God, with one another and with all creation, and of course they are interlinked. The Book of Genesis reminds us that we are stewards of creation and yet we often abuse that trust and let God down – and at the same time we put our own survival at risk.

 

Did you know that half of all antibiotics used worldwide are routinely given to industrially farmed animals which scientists warn us is contributing to the emergence of deadly antibiotic resistant superbugs.

 

Did you know that the use of chemicals in some parts of the world have destroyed the bee population needed to pollinate fruit trees?  Bees are having to be trucked across the United States and air freighted from Australia to replace the bees that have been killed in the vast orchards of California.

 

Did you know that cereals that could feed billions of people are being given to animals – soya and grain that could nourish the world’s poorest people is grown as animal fodder.

 

The increasing demand for meat from countries like India and China cannot be met without enormous animal cruelty and even in this country people often pay more for bottled water than for milk and it costs the farmers more to produce it than they can sell it for.

 

So what as Christians can we do about this?  You can of course join the ASWA and be kept informed of animal welfare issues and you can join in the debates and protests – write letters to MPs and others – but there is also another way.

 

As I often say, each time we go shopping we make moral choices by what we buy.  So much food that is produced will have exploited poor people or animals.  If you choose ‘Fair Trade’ alternatives you are helping poor people, not by paying a little extra as some kind of charity, but by giving them justice and a fair price for their goods.

 

Similarly, when it comes to animal welfare you have choices.  Many people are choosing to eat less meat –either for reasons of health, cost or animal welfare.  Some are choosing to eat less meat but better meat. And if you do buy meat, the RSPCA monitors the Freedom Food scheme to assure us of higher standards of animal welfare.

 

You can choose organic milk, free range eggs and free range chickens that are likely to taste very much better than those that are slaughtered at just six weeks old. Wild salmon has up to 60% less fat than farmed salmon, and buy local – most supermarkets now sell locally produced products and that helps the environment and local farmers.

 

Anglicans are committed to the Five Marks of Mission and from time to time we need to be reminded of what they are!  They are – 1. To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom, 2. To teach, baptise and nurture new believers, 3. To respond to human need by loving service, 4. To seek to transform the unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation and, last but not least, 5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

 

So following the example of St Francis, let us give thanks to God for all his creatures with which we share this planet.  Let us pray for forgiveness for the ways in which we have misused and abused our world – especially the animals and let each one of us all do something, no matter how small, because together we can make a big difference.  Amen.

 

Intercessions, ASWA Eucharist 5 October 2014

Revd Professor Martin Henig

 

We pray for Bishop Richard, for this diocese of Monmouth and for the Church in Wales, as well as for the Anglican Communion and the Church throughout the world, praying especially for Christians being persecuted for their faith. Give the Church  the courage and strength always to speak up for justice for humans and for animals wherever they are oppressed. Lord in Your Mercy…Hear our prayer

 

We pray for the World, for peace in all places where conflict rages, especially in Syria, Iraq and the Holy Land. We pray for all, humans and animals, who have suffered from the effects of war, terrorism and fanaticism. Lord in Your Mercy…Hear our prayer

 

We pray for the entire Creation, and this Francistide we recall the unity of all creatures and our kinship with the animals who are our brothers and sisters. Teach us to be loving and compassionate to all our fellow creatures. We pray for all organisations which teach compassion and love for animals especially the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals. Lord in Your Mercy…Hear our prayer

 

We pray for all people who are distressed or ill in body or mind, and likewise pray for animals that are unhappy or in pain. May all who need you feel your healing presence, you who feel for the smallest sparrow on the rooftop. Lord in Your Mercy…Hear our prayer

 

We pray for those who have died and are in our hearts and minds at this time, in full confidence of your love for them and for all Creation, and in the light of  the living hope of your son, our saviour, Jesus Christ who rose from the Dead. Lord in Your Mercy…Hear our prayer

 

 We ask for the intercession of St  Gwynllyw, St Francis, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary to bring our prayers and petitions before your throne of Grace…

 

 


Other Services

Eucharist - Eucharist on Sunday January 8th 2017 at St Fridewide's, Osney - Revd Professor Martin Henig

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity - Parish Eucharist sermon by Lay Preacher, John Clements in The Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Botley in North Hinxey Parish. Text - Psalm 111 and the Gospel Luke 17:11-19

Animal Welfare Sunday 2016 - Sermon at St Cross, Winchester by the Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS

Trinity 16 Service - Sermon by Revd Prof Martin Henig - ASWA Vice President

Service for Animal Welfare - Sermon by Revd Mandy Young, Curate, All saint's Snodland Kent

Passion Sunday - 2016 - St Frideswide’s , Osney Eucharist on Sunday 13th March 2016 [Passion Sunday] - Revd. Professor Martin Henig

ASWA Annual Service 2015 - Sermon from The Right Reverend James Jones former Bishop of Liverpool

Harvest Festival Sermon - Sermon from Eucharist Service held on Sunday 27th September [Harvest Festival] at St Frideswide's Church, Osney - Revd. Professor Martin Henig

Animal Welfare Service - Watford 31 May 2015 - Animal Welfare Service - Watford

Ecumenical Animal Welfare Retreat - Ecumenical Animal Welfare Retreat, Penmaenmawr in North Wales from Monday 18th May to Friday 22nd May 2015

Sermon from Harvest Evensong - The Harvest is for the Animals too! Sermon from Revd Professor Martin Henig

Sermon at St Margaret's, Binsey - A sermon from Revd Professor Martin Henig

Animals, God and Human convenience - A sermon delivered at St Mary’s Church, Ewell, Surrey by Revd Professor Martin Henig

St Michael & All Angels Watford - Reverend Professor Martin Henig - Watford

CCA Ecumenical Retreat Spring 2014 - Wales - The first of two Sermons presented by Revd Professor Martin Henig

CCA Retreat Spring 2014 - Wales 2 - The second of two sermons presented by the Revd Professor Martin Henig

Dominion - A sermon preached Reverend Jennifer Brown (ASWA) at St Mary’s, Kidlington, Oxfordshire

Eucharist for Advent II - Revd Professor Martin Henig, ASWA vice president - "They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain.."

Sermon for 2013 Annual Service - Sermon by Reverend Hugh Broadbent, ASWA Committee Member, at ASWA Annual Service on Animal Welfare Sunday

The Groans of Creation - A Sermon preached by the Revd. Professor Martin Henig - Vice President of ASWA

Whitsun Creation Service - Revd. Professor Martin Henig at St Frideswide’s , Osney

Whitsun Evensong - Revd. Professor Martin Henig - St Margaret’s, Binsey

Sermon for Lent IV - Sermon for Fourth Sunday in Lent by Revd Dr Martin Henig - Vice Chairman of ASWA

Sermon from 2012 Annual Service - Chelmsford - Sermon by Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell at ASWA Annual Service on Animal Welfare Sunday

Eucharist & Evensong Sunday 7th October 2012 - St Margaret’s, Binsey Revd. Professor Martin Henig

Animal Welfare Sunday Sermon - Sermon - St Mary’s, Kidlington on Animal Welfare Sunday - Reverend Jennifer Brown

Eucharist - Dogs & Cats - Sermon from Revd. Professor Martin Henig - St Frideswide’s, Oseney.

The birds of the air: From Holy Ghost to fall - The Birds of the Air: From Holy Ghost to fallen sparrow - Revd. Professor Martin Henig

A Sin against the Holy Spirit - Sermon for Trinity 1 by Revd Dr Martin Henig - Vice Chairman of ASWA

Sermon for Lent II - Sermon for Third Sunday in Lent by Revd Dr Martin Henig - Vice Chairman of ASWA

Sermon for Lent - Into the Wilderness - a Sermon from Martin Henig - one of a series during Lent - 29.02.12

Lent Sermon - Salvation for All - Sermon by Reverend Jennifer Brown - Sunday 12th February 2012

Sermon from 2011 Annual Service - Sermon by Rt Revd Richard Llewellin, ASWA Chairman, at Kings Norton

Ecumenical Animal Welfare Retreat 07.05.11 - Address from Ecumenical Animal Retreat May 2011 by Dr Martin Henig, ASWA Vice President, run by Catholic Concern for Animals

Sermon - Creation Sunday, Oxford - Sermon from our Vice President, Professor Martin Henig - Creation Sunday 2011 - St Frideswide's, Oxford

Sermon from Gloucester Cathedral 20.11.10 - Sermon from Evensong at Gloucester Cathedral 20th November 2010 Revd Dr Martin Henig, ASWA Vice President

Sermon from 2010 Animal Service - ASWA President, Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS delivered the Sermon at St Jude on the Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb

Sermon for Animal Welfare Sunday 2010 - Sermon preached at St Mary's Church, Kidlington by Reverend Jennifer Brown

Sermon from 2010 Animal Sunday Wokingham - Revd Dr Martin Henig spoke at Wokingham Parish Church

Sermon from 2008 Annual Service - Sermon delivered by Bishop Michael Nazir Ali at the 2008 Rochester Cathedral service

Sermon from 2009 Annual Service - Durham Cathedral Saturday 26th September 2009 Steven Shakespeare

Sermon from 2007 Annual Service - Sermon delivered by Brother Samuel at the 2007 St Michael’s Church, Watford service

Lambeth Conference - ASWA attended the Lambeth Conference with a fringe meeting on Wednesday 30th July.

Dr Tony Campolo Service 2007 - Dr Campolo speaks on Christian responsibilty for the Animal Kingdom.

Sermon from 2002 - Liverpool Cathedral - Rt Revd James Jones's Sermon from the ASWA Annual Service in 2002

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