Refugees, Brexit and Trade, Christian Unity, Peace Sunday

  • Praying for Refugees

  • Brexit and the Trade Bill

  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

  • Short Notes: Peace Sunday, Coming Up

  • This Week’s Readings

Praying for Refugees – Saturday

On Saturday 26th January, from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm at St Clement’s Church in Oxford, CCOW will be offering ‘A time of reflection and refreshment: Praying for refugees, asylum seekers and all walking alongside’. The event will include prayer stations, reflections, shared prayers and a shared lunch.

If you haven’t already signed up, please email Joanna to do so.  We hope that Christians from different traditions and with different experiences will join us. All are welcome. Book by Thursday.

Brexit and the Trade Bill

It has been a tumultuous week in the Brexit debates. To find prayers for the nation and its leaders, you may wish to look at:

As we consider, this week, the themes of unity and pursuing justice, we are conscious of the many ways in which decisions around Brexit could have an impact on justice issues. Decisions about tariffs, for example, could have a substantial negative impact on small farmers here and developing country producers who currently export to the UK. And because trade agreements also cover regulatory frameworks, the way we approach trading relationships could affect labour rights, protection for the environment, food standards, and chemical safety standards in the UK, with impacts also on our trading partners.

In light of this, please pray as the  Trade Bill comes to the House of Lords this week. While the withdrawal of the Bill from Commons business in the coming weeks means that this Bill may not, in fact, be the one that comes to a final vote, the discussions around it still matter, as they are an opportunity to draw out central principles of trade justice that need to be included. Pray for:

  • wisdom for the Lords as they discuss vital issues relating to Brexit and trade
  • a willingness to look at the social and environmental impacts of economic decisions
  • wisdom and a sense of peace for those who engage in international trade, as they face uncertainty around their future

For more information, see our Resources on Trade and Brexit page, which has links to materials explaining the issues. Given the sheer volume of misunderstandings about trade and Parliament’s options, we would particularly commend following on Twitter David Henig (@davidhenigUK), Dmitry Grozoubinski (@DmitryOpines), and Peter Ungphakorn (@CoppetainPU) – all of them former trade negotiators committed to explaining clearly how trade agreements work; Helen Dennis (@HelenDennisDevt) at the Fairtrade Foundation and Liz May (@LizMay12) at Traidcraft Exchange, looking at impacts on developing countries; and @Brigid_Fowler, at the Hansard Society, an expert on parliamentary procedure.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

“Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue.” As we reflect on the theme chosen for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we’ve been calling to mind churches’ work for justice around the world. For each day of the coming week,  we’re providing a short prayer note relating to the daily focus, with a llink to the excellent materials provided by Indonesian Christians.

Sunday:  Theme – “The Lord is gracious and merciful to all” … God’s mercy to all people

“In various ways, [members of the Indonesian churches] work together … women of different communities in the Kebayoran area of Jakarta, for instance, work together to provide very cheap lunch packs to the becak (rickshaw) drivers, low income families, and the homeless.”

Pray for churches and Christian groups that are living out Christ’s love in their interactions with people whom others marginalise. Pray especially for those Christians who witness to God’s gracious and merciful love for all while themselves facing marginalisation or danger because of their faith.

Among these, pray for churches and Christian groups in the UK and in countries around the world which, like the Indonesian churches, offer a welcome and practical assistance to people who are on low incomes or without adequate housing. Give thanks for the many churches and Christian groups who undertake activities such as running community food projects, opening as winter shelters, providing support for refugees, and lobbying for fairer social and economic policies in solidarity with peole in poverty. If your church isn’t already involved in any such activities, pray to discern whether you might be called to action; the links above will take you to sources of inspiration and information.

Monday: Theme – “Be content with what you have” … justice in distribution of resources

“The PGI [Communion of Churches in Indonesia] member churches share the conviction that greed is the root cause of the four different but interrelated issues [poverty, injustice, radicalism and environmental degradation]. Therefore PGI promotes the so-called ‘spiritualitas keugaharian’ or ‘spirituality of moderation’.” Pray for the churches in Indonesia and around the world who work to combat greed and its consequences, and to offer an alternative of joyful moderation.

In the UK, pray for endeavours like Green Christians’ ‘Joy in Enough’ programme, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility’s ‘using ethical investment to close the gap’ ( creating fairer pay structures), and the Joint Public Issues Team’s work on poverty and inequality. If you’re not already working for justice in this area and feel called to do so, consider whether these or other resources or opportunities relating to your own experience might be offering something with which to engage.

Tuesday: Theme – “To bring good news to the poor”… combattting exploitation of people in poverty

“The prophet Amos criticized traders who practiced deceit  and exploited  the poor  in order to gain maximum profit. Amos also underlined how God observes their wrongdoing and will never forget it. God listens to the cries of victims of injustice and never forsakes those who are exploited and treated unjustly.”

Pray for Christians around the world who are seeking to end exploitation by providing fairly paid work, fairly priced housing, and fair access to credit for people who are trying to escape poverty. Pray especially for:

  • Traidcraft’s team in the UK as it reshapes the organisation in order to make it sustainable.
  • Traidcraft’s  Christian producer partners (and all its producer partners) worldwide who are providing opportunities for good employment, and who will be seeking new markets. You might want to use the prayers from Asha Handicrafts which are on our website.
  • Housing Justice in the UK  and church housing initiatives globally.
  • Credit unions, savings groups, and microcredit institutions serving poor communities, especially those formed by churches, either alone or working ecumenically

Wednesday: Theme – “The Lord of Hosts is His name”… care for creation

“Many people have been driven by  greed  to exploit creation beyond its capacity. In the name of development, forests are  cleared and pollution destroys land, air, rivers and seas, rendering agriculture impossible, making fresh water unobtainable and causing animals to die. In this context it is useful to remember that  after  his resurrection, Jesus commissioned  the disciples to proclaim the good news ‘to the whole creation’. No  part  of  creation is outside God’s plan to make all things new. And so  conversion  is  needed from a tendency to exploit to an attitude  that values and  reconciles  us with creation.”

Pray for Christians around the world who are seeking to care for creation, especially:

  • The churches in Indonesia, as they come together “to promote eco-friendly churches, and to take a stand against environmental abuses”
  • all who are inspiring people to see the beauty of creation and to appreciate the wonder of God’s gift to us
  • all who are taking steps – whether small, beginning steps or larger ones – to live more sustainably. Pray too for programmes like Eco Church and LiveSimply that offer support in living joyfully and sustainably
  • all – such as Rene Pamplona and Sister Susan Bolanio in the Philippines  – who are environmental defenders in places where opposing exploitation and protecting natural resources can be dangerous
  • all around the world who are seeking to influence their governments to have stronger environmental policies, especially, at this time of regulatory rollback in the US and Brazil, those in US networks like Creation Justice Ministries, the Evangelical Environmental Network and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and those working in Brazil for environmental justice

Thursday: Theme – “Woman, great is your faith” … fighting trafficking and exploitation of women

“In recent years churches in Indonesia have taken common action against human trafficking and the sexual abuse of children. Their efforts, and those of people of other faiths, are all the more urgent since the number of victims in some parts of their country is increasing daily.
As Christians unite in prayer and study of the Scriptures, truly listening for God’s voice, they can discover that God also speaks today through the cries of the most abused in society. It is when  they hear God’s  call together  that  they are  inspired to join in common action against the scourge of human trafficking and of other evils.”

Pray for all – men and women – who are affected by the evils of trafficking and sexual exploitation. Pray for Christian initiatives to end these scourges, including:

  • The Clewer Initiative, a project helping Church of England churches and wider church networks “to develop strategies to detect modern slavery in their communities and help provide victim support and care”
  • International Justice Mission,  which seeks to rescue people from slavery, press for the conviction of slave owners, and address the situations that engender slavery
  • Medaille Trust, “a charity founded by groups of [Catholic] Religious congregations … to work against the evils of human trafficking in response to the plight of thousands of people who are being trafficked into the UK each year”
  • Stop the Traffik, a global movement seeking “to unite people around the world by inspiring, informing, equipping and mobilising communities to know what trafficking is, know how to identify it and how to respond, and know how to protect themselves and others”

Could your church take a look at the “7 Ps” – principles for churches taking action to tackle trafficking?

Friday: Theme – “The Lord is my light and my salvation” … A unified church working for justice

“Day by day, year by year, and especially during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christians join together for common prayer, professing their common baptismal faith, listening for God’s voice in the Scriptures and praying together of unity in Christ’s body. In doing so, they recognise that the Holy Trinity is the source of all unity and that Jesus is the light of the world, who promises the light of life to those who follow him. The many injustices in the world frequently sadden or anger them. But they do not lose hope, they move to action. Because the Lord is their light and their salvation and the stronghold of their lives, they do not fear.”

Please pray:

Short Notes

Peace Sunday

“”One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations… today more than ever, our societies need ‘artisans of peace’ who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.”

This Sunday, 20 January, is Peace Sunday, with the theme ‘Good politics is at the service of peace’. At a time when so much in politics worldwide turns to conflict more than peace, please pray for God to transform the politics of hatred into a politics of love and peace. Each person will have a particular situation that they wish to pray for. We’d ask your prayers at present for people working on a political solution to the conflict in Yemen, those working to create peace and justice following the disputed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, those seeking freedom for minority ethnic and religious groups in China and Myanmar, and those seeking a politics of love, justice and righteousness amidst the divisions in the United States.

Coming Up

Next Sunday is both World Leprosy Day and Holocaust Memorial Day. Click on the links for materials.

This Week’s Readings

Revised Common Lectionary Readings – Isaiah 62:1-5  •  Psalm 36:5-10  •  1 Corinthians 12:1-11  •  John 2:1-11

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.”

1 Corinthians 12: 4-11

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