- Advent Sunday: Advent, World AIDS Day, Light for Lima/Pray and Fast
- Violence against Women
- North Korea
- Short Notes: Ukraine, Romanian Elections
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory ... all the nations will be gathered before him."
In many churches, this week is observed as the last week of the Christian year, and the Sunday is known as “Christ the King.” The Revised Common Lectionary readings reflect this and speak of the reign of Christ to come. It is a reign that brings joy to those who have followed Christ's command to love God and neighbour ... but judgement on those who have oppressed, exploited and neglected others. Pray that we may be given the grace to see Christ in our neighbour, and to serve both God and neighbour with love and joy.
Advent Sunday Resources:
Advent, World AIDS Day, Light for Lima / Pray and Fast
We know it's not Advent Sunday this week ... but whether you're planning your own personal Advent disciplines or preparing a service for next week, we want you to be aware of some Advent-themed resources well in advance.
- Our updated "CCOW Guide to Advent Resources" is now online, with a choice of online advent calendars, reflections, and materials to help your preparations.
- World AIDS Day is the 1st of December and so can be observed on either the 30th of November or the 7th of December. We'd like again to draw your attention to the wide variety of World AIDS Day worship materials available from CABSA and Diakonia (scroll down to Liturgies, Sermons, etc).
- And we're delighted to introduce our "Light for Lima" powerpoint, designed for use in private prayer, Pray and Fast gatherings on the 1st of the month, vigils, or other church services.
The powerpoint is split into three sections so as to be manageable in size. Each can be used independently, or the three can be used together.
Advent Light, for Lima: Part 1 is a reflection that sets the context of the UN climate talks and reflects on Christ's coming to earth.
Advent Light, for Lima: Part 2 offers quotes and pictures relating to climate change, with prayer to begin and end.
Advent Light, for Lima: Part 3 is a prayer with images.
What is "Light for Lima"? Last week's prayer email highlighted the increasing sense of potential for real action on climate change. From 1st - 12th December representatives of 195 countries will gather in Lima, Peru for the latest round of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations. Lima is a crucial stepping-stone on the road to the December 2015 Paris conference, which aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.
As the delegates gather, people around the world will be holding events asking world leaders to find the courage and generosity that is needed to have successful negotiations. Organized by Our Voices, Light for Lima is one of these - a global call to prayer, sent to people of all beliefs.
As Christians, we yearn to bring our concerns in this area before God, who created and sustains the world. To help us offer our prayers, and in thanksgiving for the faith and hope we have in Christ, CCOW has prepared a powerpoint reflection, Advent Light, for Lima which draws together the themes of Advent, light, darkness, and climate change. We hope you find it helpful.
Violence against Women
She needs to explain what she has suffered, and so she rolls up her shirt to show where the cigarettes were burned into her body ... recalls the way the militias entered her home ... names the implements her husband used to punish her ... speaks the harsh words that were used to demean and diminish her ... reveals the tattoo that marked her as someone's property ... recalls the loving sister whose violent partner has left their family bereaved.
"She" is too many women from too many places. And the violence that causes such pain to so many women must end.
That's why, for sixteen days beginning on Tuesday, people all around the world will take action on violence against women. The 16 Days of Activism start on the 25th of November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. They end on the 10th of December, Human Rights Day. If you'd like some background on the 16 Days, resources for worship and reflection, and suggestions for action, do look at CCOW's 16 Days of Action Guide.
On the 25th of November, there's a particular emphasis on the role men and boys play in ending gender-based violence. Men can wear white ribbons or take the White Ribbon pledge, "never to commit, condone, or remain silent about men's violence against women in all its forms."
If you want to find out more about what men and boys are doing and can do, you might also want to reflect on:
- this new "Anglican Men Speak Out" video from the Anglican Communion
- two excellent blogposts from Restored, the Christian organisation campaigning to end violence against women. The first looks at some definitions of masculinity within the UK; the second presents a vision for positive change that came out of a meeting in Zambia.
- the website for the recent MenEngage Global Symposium
- the website for the recent "First Man Standing" materials, designed to help Christian men and churches counter violence against women.
As the 16 Days begin, please pray:
- for all women who have suffered from gender-based violence.
- that all people everywhere may recognise that gender-based violence is unacceptable.
- that all governments will take on board such elements of UN policy suggestions as adopting and enforcing laws to end impunity, increasing women's access to justice, training frontline service providers to recognise and support women who have been harmed, and working with young people - including men and women, boys and girls - to build positive gender relationships.
- in thanksgiving for men who are prepared to speak out against gender-based violence and to promote relationships of mutual respect and accountability.
- in thanksgiving for the White Ribbon campaign and Restored's "First Man Standing".
- for a change in heart and behaviour among men who are perpetrators of gender-based violence.
- for churches to support men and women who suffer from gender-based violence and to counter attitudes that lead to such violence. Pray especially for We will speak out, which helps to teach churches how to take positive action in this area.
Please note. If you are praying in a public context, chances are that a woman who has suffered violence or domestic abuse will be praying with you. Please proceed sensitively!
This week the UN General Assembly's Human Rights Committee voted to adopt a resolution which will urge the Security Council to refer North Korea's human rights abuses to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The vote follows a special UN report in February which documented abuses “without parallel in the contemporary world.” North Korean representatives have made great efforts to stop the resolution going forward, including offering the possibility of cooperation with the UN human rights rapporteur on North Korea. In the event only 19 countries, all with poor human rights records of their own (including China, Russia, Syria, Iran and Zimbabwe), voted against the resolution, which was drafted by the EU and Japan.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said, “This vote is truly historic ... We pay particular tribute to the work of the [UN's] Commission of Inquiry, and its chair, Justice Michael Kirby, who has been such a powerful advocate. There is still a lot more to do – next month the full General Assembly will vote on the resolution, and then the task of ensuring that the UN Security Council acts upon the General Assembly resolution will begin.”
In actuality, should the full General Assembly adopt the resolution, the prospect of a referral to the ICC seems remote, as both China and Russia are almost certain to veto any vote held within the Security Council. Nonetheless, the evidence of a mounting willingness to tackle the situation has clearly rattled the North Korean government, which has condemned the resolution as an act of US-orchestrated provocation and reacted vehemently, stating that it no longer sees a need to enter into human rights dialogue and will increase the size of its military and no longer "refrain from staging a new nuclear test."
- For those suffering in North Korea, particularly those in the country's system of labour camps and prisons.
- In thanksgiving for the attention being paid to the human rights abuses.
- For changed hearts and minds as the resolution moves forwards. Pray particularly that Russia and China as members of the Security Council may be given wisdom and discernment in their responses to any General Assembly resolution.
- For changed hearts and minds among the leadership of North Korea. Pray for an end to the human-rights abuses, military threats and attacks that have characterised the North Korean regime.
Short Notes: Ukraine, Romanian Elections
The first anniversary of the start of the Maidan protests in Kiev was this past Friday (21 November). (Coverage: BBC news clip, BBC opinion piece, Deutsche Welle, Guardian, Washington Post) As the commemorations took place, the situation in the Ukraine remained tense. There has been some progress in forming a new government and its foreign policy, but both the ongoing issue of corruption and the conflict with Russia and Russian-supported rebels in the Donbas region remain of great concern.
Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers. Pray:
- that Ukraine's government may act with transparency, justice and wisdom
- for a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict in the eastern part of the country, and for all who have died or been injured in that conflict. The UN estimates that almost 1,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the signing of the September truce.
- for the people, especially those in the eastern part of the country, who are suffering privation because of the ongoing conflict
- that Christians in all parts of the Ukraine may be witnesses to God's love
- for wisdom for foreign governments attempting to convince Russia to cease its interventions in the Ukraine
- for a change of heart in the Russian leadership
- Romanian Elections
Last week saw the favourite to win the Romanian presidential elections beaten at the polls. Social Democrat Prime Minister Victor Ponta was forced to concede defeat to the Mayor of Sibiu, Klaus Iohannis, of the National Liberal Party.
Iohannis had promised in his campaign to tackle corruption and maintain an independent judiciary: following his win (and at his request) Parliament has voted down a draft amnesty and pardon law, which could have freed corrupt politicians. It is expected that Mr Iohannis, an ethnic German, will also steer Romania towards its European neighbours rather than towards alliances with Russia and China.
There is, however, some concern that as Iohannis seeks to attract foreign investment by making the country more business friendly he may leave the poorest behind. The shock defeat of Ponta has also left the country feeling divided. Election maps show the country very segregated in their voting patterns approximately following lines of historic state divisions. Analysts have also noted that the tensions between the Prime Minister and President may cause short-term political instability - though examples of Mr Ponta's graciousness following the election offer hope for constructive cooperation.
Please pray for Romania:
- That the new President will govern wisely and well. Pray especially that he will be successful in tackling corruption.
- That all politicians and people in the country will work towards a united future and not allow divisions to take hold.