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OSJ Prayers: December 5, 2018

"We can miss Advent by simply not being read, by not living our lives in ways that constantly anticipate the coming of God's kingdom of joy, peace, and justice. But there is another way that we can miss Advent. We can miss Advent by not waiting at all. You see, if we are satisfied with our own lives, if we think that 'what you see is what you get,' if we have a sense that somehow we have already 'arrived' and that there is no further to go, then there will be nothing to wait for. . . . Let us wait expectantly."

The Advent of Justice: A Book of Meditations
by Brian J. Walsh, J. Richard Middleton, Mark Vander Vennen

COP24 Kicks Off in Poland; U.S. Isolated

On Sunday, world leaders, climate scientists, and activists from 197 countries kicked off the 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) meeting in the southern Polish city of Katowice to hash out rules that will govern the global effort to rein in greenhouse gases in the coming decades. The expected outcome of the two-week COP24 climate summit is a “rule book” detailing how to make sure countries are sticking to the promises they made in the monumental 2015 Paris Agreement of COP21. COP24 comes on the heels of last week’s G-20 gathering in Argentina, where 19 of the 20 national leaders there signed a communique reaffirming their commitment to fight global warming; U.S. President Donald Trump, however, insisted on including a paragraph outlining his opposition and his administration’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement.

Lord, for world leaders whose decisions make significant impacts on people and nations across the globe, we offer prayers for wisdom, for courage, for justice.

Refugee Families Enter UK after 20 Years at Military Base

Six refugee families who have been stranded on a sovereign British army base in Cyprus for more than 20 years have been granted indefinite leave by the British government to enter the UK for permanent residency. The decision, announced by their London lawyers, is a victory for the families – originally from Iraq, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Syria – who left the coast of Lebanon in a fishing boat operated by smugglers in the hope of making a landfall in Italy. Tag Bashir, the lead claimant, said: “We want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to help us escape this 20-year nightmare. I cannot express how happy our families are to be given the opportunity to come to the UK and start our lives again.”

Lord, we rejoice with these people who finally feel they have hope for a future. We pray for all who remain in situations of uncertainty and suffering because they have been forced to seek safety somewhere far from home.

Hate Crimes Leap in 2018

Reported hate crimes in Canada skyrocketed 47 percent last year, the highest increase since comparable data first become available in 2009, according to recently released figures from Statistics Canada. Law enforcement agencies reported that 2,073 hate crimes occurred in 2017, up from 1,409 in 2016, an increase fueled by incidents primarily taking place in Ontario and Quebec targeting Canada’s Jewish, Muslim, and black populations. Although it marked the fourth consecutive year that hate crimes have increased in the country, this uptick represented the largest one-year jump during that period. “Ordinarily, I would give the caveat that any increase in crime statistics could be the result of better police recording and public reporting,” said Barbara Perry, a criminology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. “But this kind of leap means more is going on than just changes in recording behavior.”

We pray, God, for your Spirit to be present among all of us — give hope where there is fear, love where there is hate, hospitality where there is separation. Grant that we might be living examples of your good news in this world.

Abortion Rates at Historic Low

The United States’ abortion rate has fallen dramatically over the past decade, new federal data shows. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the national abortion rate declined 26 percent between 2006 and 2015, hitting the lowest level that the government has on record. The abortion ratiothe proportion of abortions to live births — is also down to historic lows. In 2005, the abortion ratio was about 233 abortions for every 1,000 live births; in 2015, it was 188 abortions for 1,000 live births. This decline in abortions is happening amid other positive trends in reproductive health. The number of teen pregnancies in the United States, for example, has decreased dramatically since the 1990s — and a lot of that seems to have to do with young adults using better contraceptive methods.

We give thanks, God, for this news of lower abortion rates, and for all who have worked hard to address the tragedy of abortion — from volunteers at pregnancy centers, to health care providers, to those who teach young people about sexuality. God, we pray that a deep sense of life’s sacredness would more and more emerge among us so that someday we might celebrate that abortion has ended and that all people can live flourishing lives.

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Worship Materials

“We believe . . . that God’s life-giving Word and Spirit will enable the church to live in a new obedience which can open new possibilities of life for society and the world.” These words from the Belhar Confession along with the promise of Isaiah 65:23 are the focus of our worship materials to help your church honor Sanctity of Human Life Sunday on January 20, 2019. As Christians, we seek the restoration of all things so that every life created in the image of God is honored out of obedience to God. Visit crcna.org/life for worship resources including a bulletin insert, a prayer, and a responsive reading.

It’s Not Too Late to Sign Up for 2018 Advent Devotions!

Starting this past Monday, World Renew and the Office of Social Justice began sharing a devotional series for Advent 2018 called Holy Impatience that explores doing justice in a world that belongs to God, a world where so many people are marginalized and oppressed, with a holy impatience both celebrating glimpses of the kingdom and eagerly yearning for what is to come. Don’t miss out: Sign up today at crcna.org/advent.

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