OSJ Prayers: October 31, 2018

“That's the whole spiritual life. It's learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love.”

—Eugene Peterson, former American clergyman, scholar, and author

11 Killed at Pittsburgh Synagogue

On Saturday, Oct. 27, a man armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and at least three handguns opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 congregants and wounding nine others. The man shouted anti-Semitic slurs as he entered the Tree of Life Congregation, which he reportedly chose because it appeared on a list of synagogues participating in National Refugee Shabbat. (The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society organizes the event every year, and this is similar to Refugee Sunday organized by Church World Service for Christian congregations.) The gunman’s social media screeds included hatred and fear of Jews, Muslims, refugees, and the “migrant caravan.” Reports indicate there is a surge in hate-related speech and crimes across America.

God of peace, God of comfort, God who embodies and engenders love, we groan under the weight of this event. We pray that the Spirit intervenes to change hearts to live by wisdom, that your will may be done. Dwell among Jews and Muslims, among refugees and immigrants, and among people for whom fear incites violence. Dwell among us, Lord.

Pressure Mounts in Australia over Detainment of Refugee Children

Under a harsh policy meant to deter asylum seekers from reaching Australia by boat, the government sends people seeking refuge to remote camps on islands in the Pacific for processing and bars them from resettling in Australia. Criticism of the camps has grown amid reports of abuse, suicides, and lengthy detention periods; this week public pressure mounted to remove the refugee children who have been detain ed there. The United Nations refugee agency has said the health situation of the asylum seekers and refugees in these camps was "collapsing."

God, for the leaders who are tasked with policies and procedures when newcomers arrive seeking refuge, we offer prayers for wisdom, compassion, and justice. We pray for Australia, and we ask for your guidance in echoes of this story happening all over the world from Europe to North America and beyond. For each person created in your image who is seeking safety and hope, we pray for your presence and protection.

Countries Lagging Behind Commitments of Paris Agreement

Analysis by Dr. Michal Nachmany and Emily Mangan from the World Resources Institute found discrepancies between promises made on the global stage to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the targets that each country makes and backs up by its laws. In total, 157 countries have made international commitments to slash their emissions under the Paris Agreement in 2015. So far only 58 countries have backed up those commitments with targets for emissions reductions, and just 16 of those targets are as ambitious as the promises in their commitments.

Lord, we pray for the leaders of each nation considering real, measurable, accountable change to their creation-harming emissions. Empower these leaders to move forward with wisdom, to pursue steps that result in better care of your created world, and to prioritize the dignity of the people who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Pakistani Christian Acquitted on Death Row

A Pakistani court has overturned the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, a case that has polarised the nation. Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours. She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement. The landmark ruling has already set off violent protests by hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws. Demonstrations against the verdict are being held in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Multan. Clashes with police have been reported. The Red Zone in the capital Islamabad, where the Supreme Court is located, has been sealed off by police, and paramilitary forces have been deployed to keep protesters away from the court.

God, we give thanks for the release of Asia Bibi and for your mercy. We pray for all those who sit on death row and in prisons, whether guilty or innocent, that you might be Comforter, Friend, and Redeemer. God, we pray for justice for those who have been falsely accused, and we pray for peace in Pakistan. Halt the hands of those who wish to commit harm onto others and equip your peacemakers.

Action Alert: Oppose Rollbacks to Air Pollution Standards!

President Trump and Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler are targeting restrictions on dangerous mercury and toxic pollution from power plants with the intent to overturn the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), thus threatening to boost levels of mercury, soot, and other hazardous pollution in our water, food, and communities. Contact the White House and EPA today to urge that they protect these environmental standards!

Do Justice

“I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the traditional home of the Anishinabe people for thousands of years,” writes guest author Audrey Hughey. She reflects on her experiences learning about the land she lives on, its past, and its future. Read Hughey’s full blog post here.