OSJ Prayers: November 21, 2018


"Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery to wake to a better day."

— from When the Moon Is Low by Nadia Hashimi

Iraqi Immigrants Released from Detention

A federal judge ordered the release Tuesday of about 100 Iraqi detainees who had been held for more than 16 months in immigration detention. These immigrants had suddenly been arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2017 — many had lived for decades with an order to be deported, but they could not be returned to Iraq because the U.S. lacked a repatriation agreement with that country. With no removal in sight, they were living normal lives, raising families, working, active in their religious communities. When the government suddenly arrested them, it claimed their deportation was imminent because Iraq was now willing to take them back. That was a lie, but it allowed ICE to detain them -- seemingly indefinitely. A group of lawyers, led by the ACLU of Michigan, has worked on the case since then, celebrating with their clients on Tuesday when the judge decided that the federal government cannot indefinitely detain foreign nationals and sanctioned ICE for "demonstrably false statements to the court designed to delay the proceedings.”

God, we celebrate with these detainees who are now able to return home and celebrate holidays with their families after so many months apart. We give thanks for smart, dedicated people who work so hard to ensure that people are treated with justice, and who hold powerful leaders accountable. We pray for so many immigrants who remain in detention, or who are oceans away from their families, or who have been forced back to places that are unsafe. Protect them, Lord, and give them hope.

Premier Ford Abolishes Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Office

On Nov. 15, Ontario’s provincial government under Doug Ford abolished the office of the Environmental Commissioner. It said it was a cost-cutting measure, but as with other similar measures, including the abolition of the child advocate and the commissioner for French-language services, the government could not say how much money it might actually save. Two days earlier, Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner issued a scorching report warning that while Ontario has “some of the most abundant fresh water in the world,” it is polluting much of it. The report went on to say that “nothing comparable has been done to protect the rest of Ontario’s lakes and rivers, many of which are being seriously harmed by pollution.” The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has been the province’s environmental watchdog, an independent officer of the Legislature.

God, we pray for protection of the watersheds that sustain life for plants, animals, and humans. We ask that you empower us to remember our part in the web of creation, taking seriously the impact that we have on everything “downstream” from us. We pray for Ontario’s leaders, that they too might truly value and protect the resource of water and its immeasurable importance.

Asylum Seekers Reach U.S. Border

Central American asylum seekers continue to arrive at the Mexican border city of Tijuana, intending to cross at the port of entry and seek asylum in the U.S. This week they were faced with a group of anti-caravan protesters who shouted outside the sports complex serving as a temporary shelter to about 2,500 asylum seekers. Donald Trump has announced the withdrawal of troops from the U.S.-Mexico border as early as this week. Aid groups, including Matthew 25 SoCal, are working hard to support the ministries and non-governmental organizations responding to the immediate needs of people in the caravan.

God, for safety and hospitality, for energy and endurance, for hope and peace, we offer our prayers for these brothers and sisters who have endured so much already. We pray that those working at the U.S. border will process their asylum claims in accord with long-established laws — give them wisdom, clarity, and compassion. We pray for the many volunteers who are helping to coordinate a compassionate response in Mexico. We pray for political leaders whose decisions make a life-altering impact on vulnerable people.

3 Killed in Shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago

A gunman killed three people, including a police officer, at a hospital in Chicago, authorities said on Monday. The gunman had opened fire outside Mercy Hospital on the city’s South Side, killing an emergency room doctor with whom he had a domestic disagreement, then ran into the hospital and fatally shot a pharmacy resident and a police officer. The attacker also died on Monday, and it was later determined that he died from a police bullet although he had also shot himself.

God, we pray for the people of Chicago as they grieve this shocking event. We pray for the families of the victims, for those who experienced trauma during this crime, and for those who live under the fear of gun violence all the time. God, we pray for wisdom and discernment, for collaboration and creativity, and for attention to real solutions to atrocities like these that have become so numerous in our world today.

Sign Up for Advent Devotions Today!

Holy Impatience is an email devotional series put together by World Renew and the CRC Office of Social Justice that features reflections from CRC ministries around the world during Advent 2018. In this Advent season we will explore doing justice in a world that belongs to God, a world where so many people are marginalized and oppressed, with a holy impatience, celebrating glimpses of the kingdom and eagerly yearning for what is to come. Each devotional reading will be delivered to your email inbox every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, starting Dec. 3, 2018, through Christmas Day. Sign up at today!

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Worship Materials

January 20 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, and we are offering resources for your church to honor the day, including bulletin inserts, a prayer, and a responsive reading. “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.” This year we are focusing these words from the Belhar Confession along with the blessing of Isaiah 65:23 to remember that, 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 for worship resources and to learn more about this year’s focus. The deadline for ordering bulletin inserts is Dec. 19.

Important note: if you already ordered our bulletin inserts through the church-ordering link you received from the CRCNA, you do not need to order them again.