Climate Justice Event, God Speed the Plough, Week of Christian Unity

In this week’s email

  • Climate Justice Event

  • God Speed the Plough

  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

  • Short Note: Praying for Refugees

  • This Week’s Readings

Climate Justice Event

Where did the recent UN climate talks make progress? What still needs to be done? What is the UK’s role in fighting climate change and promoting climate justice?

This Friday evening at the North Oxford Association, leading climate expert Professor Myles Allen and Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran will be discussing ‘What now for Climate Justice?’ in an event sponsored by the FairPlay Climate Justice campaign. Details here: recommended highly!


God Speed the Plough

This Sunday and Monday have been marked by many churches as Plough Sunday and Plough Monday – traditionally the time when ploughs were blessed before the new year’s work began in the fields.

This week, therefore, we’re praying especially for farmers.

We’d ask, firstly, for your prayers for those farmers affected by extreme weather events – whether drought, flood, extreme temperatures, or extreme storms. The recent Christian Aid report, ‘Counting the Cost’, looks at ten extreme weather disasters around the world in 2018, each of which had estimated costs to those affected of more than 1 billion US dollars. Many of those impacts were felt by farmers: drought in Argentina meant that soybean harvests were down 31% year on year; heat and drought in Western Australia damaged wheat crops; Typhoon Mangkhut caused an estimated 644 million dollars of damage to agriculture and infrastructure in the Philippines.  The agricultural damage from Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence in the US have been estimated as being in the billions, of which $1.3 billion was from Michael and $1.1 billion was an estimate for Florence’s damage in North Caroline alone.

For some, these losses will take years to overcome. Farmers in Dominica, many of whom lost not just crops but also equipment, housing, and access to transport when Hurricane Maria struck in 2017, are still working on recovery. When we asked a staff member at the National Development Foundation of Dominica, which is helping them,  what we should pray for, the response was simply: “Generally, you could say everything.” For some farmers caught up in disasters, losses may never fully be recovered: if, for example, a small farmer in some countries loses cattle, that may mean that his or her children lose their chance at education or marriage, reducing the family’s chances of economic well being over the longer term.

As you pray for farmers in areas most affected by extreme weather, please also pray for those facing difficulties because of issues around international trade and government support. In the US, the trade war with China has reduced some farmers’ ability to sell their crops; in addition, the current government shutdown has disrupted federal farm payments, as well as access to government data and financial services. As a result, some farmers, especially small farmers and/or those in vulnerable sectors, are under threat.

In the UK, uncertainty around the impacts of Brexit are leaving many farmers unclear about their farms’ future viability. For example, some farms in the UK depend for their profitability on the single farm payment.  Brexit would mean changes to the system of farm payments, and the UK Government has promised to match the total payment amounts only until 2022, leaving open the possibility of serious cuts thereafter. In addition, farmers who sell produce into the European market aren’t certain whether they will be able to do so on similar terms: Welsh lamb farmers are anxious  for example, that in a “no deal” scenario, maybe 90% of their export markets could be threatened, while opportunities to enter new markets remain unclear. Charities that work with farmers, such as the Farming Community Network, are reporting increased levels of stress.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins this Friday, 18th January and goes through next Saturday, 25th January.  The materials for the week have been prepared by Christians in Indonesia and focus on the theme ‘‘Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue…’ (taken from Deuteronomy 16)

The introduction to the materials prepared by CTBI (very slightly modified from those prepared in Indonesia) notes: “Our prayers for Christian unity are offered within a context of a world where corruption, greed and injustice bring about inequality and division. We ourselves are often complicit in injustice, and yet called together to form a united witness for justice and to be a means of Christ’s healing grace for a fractured world.”

The materials, which include readings, reflections and prayers for each day, as well as a full ecumenical service, look at hard issues relating to current economic systems, corruption, environmental degradation, radicalisation, and the ways “those who are supposed to promote justice and protect the weak fail to do so.” But they also offer hope, based on the fact that “a common Christian response to such a reality whilst acknowledging our own complicity, heeds Jesus’s prayer “that they all may be one”, and enables us to combat injustice.”

“Indonesian Christians,” they say,”speak of the need to repent of the injustice that causes division, but also believe in the power of Christ to forgive and heal. They speak of finding themselves united under the cross of Christ, calling both for his grace to end injustice and for his mercy for the sin which has caused division.” It’s a powerful call – and the materials on offer can help us engage with it. Please pray:

  • for the country of Indonesia and especially for the Christians within it
  • that many people will use the materials prepared for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
  • that God will use our prayers for unity to unite us more closely in Christ

Short Note

Praying for Refugees

We’re preparing for our January 26th time of prayer for refugees, asylum seekers, and those walking alongside them. Please do contact Joanna if you are intending to come – and let others know about it. Please also pray for the preparations, and that the time of prayer is a blessing.


This Week’s Readings

Revised Common Lectionary Readings – Isaiah 43:1-7 • Psalm 29 • Acts 8:14-17 • Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1b-2

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