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Weekly Prayers from CCOW

CCOW Prayers for 29 November - 5 December 2015


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This week:


    • Advent Sunday: Praying for Paris
    • Advent Sunday: Online Advent Resources
    • Short Notes:
      • World AIDS Day
      • Sixteen Days of Activism: Tearfund Prayer Guide
      • Syria: The White Helments
      • Refugees in Europe and the Turkey Summit

    The Revised Common Lectionary readings this week portray the coming of the Messiah … Advent is upon us! At a time of uncertainty in world events, the readings are an encouraging reminder that however difficult events may be, we can have hope because of the promises of the sovereign God. Please continue to pray for all who are suffering in this world’s turbulence

    Advent Sunday: Praying for Paris

    The official opening of the Paris COP21 climate talks is scheduled to take place on Monday. The first day is given over to a Leaders Event, which 147 Heads of State and Government are expected to attend, and to a High Level Segment where Ministers and Heads of Delegation are due to set out national positions. These will set a tone and give a sense of different countries' parameters ... and then, on Tuesday, the negotiations should begin in earnest.

    As noted last week, following changes in the UN process, countries are coming to Paris having already made pledges for climate action, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). These pledges aren't yet enough to keep the world below the 2 degree threshold of global warming, let alone the 1.5 degrees that many countries on the frontlines of climate change feel is necessary. But they do represent progress - and some of the pledges have broken through previous stalemates.

    At Paris, it will be important to agree a text which ups the ambition on two key ares:

    • cutting emissions - holding countries to their commitments in the INDCs and putting in place a framework to increase the ambition of the proposed cuts, and
    • making sure all countries have the finance they need to adapt to climate change, deal with climate impacts and undertake clean development

    This isn't going to be easy. The decision was made to include a number of Parties' positions  in the negotiating text, so that it could be "Party-owned ... balanced and complete," with no one feeling written out before the talks even begin. But many of the positions are mutually exclusive and can't all end up in a final text, so there's a lot of negotiating to do.  To find out more about the INDCs, the draft agreement and what's needed, take a look at

    • A very basic, but clear, Q and A from Oxfam ... and Oxfam's extremely helpful analysis
    • Jennifer Morgan, Climate Director, World Resources Institute: "Seizing the Paris Moment"
    • Also from WRI, an analysis of how far countries' climate action plans get us towards the 2 degree target and what Paris needs to do to change outcomes
    • Climate Home's helpful 'read' of the proposed deal so far - focuses on finance and fairness. A  bit more detailed,  but accessible.
    • More in-depth analyses of what some familiar agencies want to see from Paris   Christian Aid (4 pages), World Wildlife Fund (7 pages)
    • And finally, the UNFCCC's own rather nifty interactive guide. Lots of info, but really well organised ... and when it looks this good, it's easier to digest.

    We will be praying throughout the negotiations via the #Pray4COP21 initiative. If you haven't already, do sign up to receive daily updates from Pray4COP21 and, if you feel called to do so, to commit a specific time for dedicated prayer. (NB: if you already get updates from Pray and Fast for the Climate, you will receive the joint updates automatically). Three key dates for prayer this week are Advent Sunday; Tuesday the 1st of December, which is a Pray and Fast for the Climate day; and Thursday the 3rd, when there will be an ecumenical service at Notre Dame, with which we are all invited to pray.

    For Advent Sunday, you might want to use the prayer written for Sundays in Advent by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, which we are reproducing below. You might also wish to use Elizabeth Perry's latest powerpoint, Advent Light ... for Paris.

    Spirit of God, You established the dance of Creation;
    bring life out of death
    bring order out of chaos.
    Call us to radical action:
    to care for the web of Creation
    to share our resources justly
    and to work for the renewal of our Mother, Earth.

    We light this candle as we commit ourselves to fast and pray for climate justice.

    Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Cape Town

    Other prayer resources for Paris include:

    Pray and Fast for the Climate's resources page will have a page with links to these and other resources as they emerge.

    Advent Sunday: Online Advent Resources

    Here is the latest CCOW Guide to Online Advent Resources
    , which focuses on resources that are designed for individuals and private prayer, though it also has some beautiful Advent candle lighting liturgies. We hope it will prove a blessing. 

    Short Notes: World AIDS Day ... Sixteen Days of Activisim: Tearfund Prayer Guide ... Syria: The White Helmets ...  Refugees in Europe and the Turkey Summit

    World AIDS Day

    The 1st of December is World AIDS Day. The theme this year is 'On the Fast-Track to end AIDS,' and the focus is on mobilising to end AIDS by 2030, as specified in the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Recent years have seen continued progress on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment: a UNAIDS report released in July noted that: "the AIDS targets of MDG 6—halting and reversing the spread of HIV—have been achieved and exceeded ... New HIV infections have fallen by 35% and AIDS-related deaths by 41%. The global response to HIV has averted 30 million new HIV infections and nearly 8 million (7.8 million) AIDS-related deaths since 2000, when the MDGs were set." This year, more than 15 million people will be able to access HIV treatment.

    The challenge now, UNAIDS says, is genuinely to fast-track prevention and treatment over a five-year period in order to meet the 2030 goals. National and international leaders and major funders have key roles to play in facilitating this. But so, UNAIDS points out, do all of us: "Every one of us holds the key to an inclusive, stigma-free, people-centred approach that leaves no one behind."

    Please pray in thanksgiving for the progress that has been made in prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Pray too that all who are living with HIV/AIDS may receive the treatment and support that they need to live well, that those who have lost loved ones to HIV and AIDS may find peace and the support that they need to live well, and that the Sustainable Development Goal of ending AIDS by 2030 will be met.

    You may wish to use the excellent World AIDS Day worship resources from the Christian AIDS Bureau for Southern Africa (CABSA).

    Sixteen Days of Activism: Tearfund Prayer Guide

    Tearfund's Prayer Guide for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence tells the stories of women and men who have experienced violence - and of the ways in which they are seeking healing, justice, and opportunities to help themselves and others to fullness of life.

    Please do consider using this prayer guide as you continue to pray for an end to gender-based violence of all types, and for healing for all those whom such violence has affected.

    Syria: The White Helmets

    We continue to pray that those in positions of authority will have wisdom and discernment as they seek to respond to the war in Syria. Please pray in particular for MPs as they prepare to vote on the proposal that the UK join in the bombing campaign against the Islamic State.

    One of the comments that is often made is that we hear much about the conflict, but little about the activities of those who are making peace and protecting civilians on the ground. With that in mind, please take a minute - if you haven't already - to watch this video about the Syrian Civil Defence, the White Helmets. Give thanks for their courage; pray for all who are protecting civilians on the ground - and pray that those who are negotiating about Syria - whether Syrians or outsiders - will allow measures to safeguard civilians, something which at this point is sorely lacking.

    Refugees in Europe and the Turkey Summit

    The past month has seen rapid changes in European border controls as countries have responded to both increasing numbers of refugees arriving and to the actions of neighbouring states. Changes to border controls introduced by Austria (a limit to the numbers crossing), Germany (a requirement for refugees to cross at specific border points) and Sweden (limits on numbers and changes to asylum rules) have meant countries further south have also imposed limits on the number and nationality of forced migrants they will allow to cross their borders. eports that sudden changes to border controls imposed by Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia on 18th November (which require refugees to show ID papers from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq) together with abrupt changes in the numbers allowed through are preventing people from claiming asylum and are swelling the numbers held in temporary camps near to border crossings. At one camp on the border between Macedonia and Greece numbers swelled from 1500 to 6000.

    As cold weather sets in there are serious concerns for these refugees left stranded in the Balkans. Many small church projects are working to provide for refugees in their local area, but the unpredictability of the flow of refugees makes any response more difficult, will there be 200 or 20 people needing food, clothes and accommodation? But Christian voices from the region are also suggesting that these challenges can be a call to the church to grow, to respond to a new and uncertain situation with creativity and a prophetic voice, to find new ways of witnessing to the love of God in the midst of turmoil.

    On Sunday EU and Turkish leaders will meet to discuss and sign an agreement on closer collaboration, seeking to address the issues surrounding the increasing and irregular flows of refugees. The EU is expected to promise billions of euros towards the cost of refugee education programmes, projects to enable refugees to become self-supporting and local infrastructure for Turkish communities who host 2.2 million Syrian refugees. In return Turkey will focus on registering refugees, accept returned migrants whose asylum applications fail, and increase its efforts to tackle migrant smuggling networks. This summit follows from the Malta summit earlier this month, which focused on tackling root causes of refugee travel from Africa. These efforts are important, but clear agreements between EU states themselves are also needed.

    Please pray:

    • For refugees in the Balkans unsure of where to go.
    • That churches serving refugees in these areas will be able to provide for them in all circumstances and will find creative and fruitful ways to witness to Christ’s love in a complex situation.
    • That aid agencies and governments will make further provisions for refugees living outside in the cold weather
    • That EU and Turkish leaders as they meet on Sunday will have generous hearts as they consider the plight of refugees in Turkey and Europe, and that their agreements will bear fruit.
CCOW Year Planner for Churches - 2015

Do you have expertise in any of the areas touched on in this week's prayers ? If so, we'd love to hear from you with comments, thoughts or suggestions! Please do email us.