Lectionary Selection: Matthew 1:18-25
Prayers for Colombia:
Today we pray for the country of Colombia and our partners in mission there. Their resolute commitment to work for peace and the victims of violence has put them in harm's way. We remember today that you came to us in the fragility of a newborn baby, and we pray for all life around the world. May the prince of peace accompany our partners in Colombia and all countries that face the challenges of war and violence this Christmas season.
Today we are reminded that you have come to be with us, oh God, Emmanuel. May your presence in our lives and in the lives of our friends from Colombia push us toward justice and peace. Your love can overcome all division, can heal all wounds, and can restore all those who have suffered harm with loving justice.
We thank you, God, for the witness of Justapaz and of the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of Colombia. Encourage them and give them strength this Christmas as they share your love in the country of Colombia.Read more
The Central Workers’ Union of Colombia (CUT) called to continue on Monday the protests against right-wing President Ivan Duque and his neoliberal policies and in defense of peace in the South American nation. The protests began on November 21st and they are ongoing as of this writing. “Many sectors of the population continue to demonstrate through the extraordinary cacerolazos (banging of pots, a form of popular protest which consists of a group of people making noise by banging pots, pans, and other utensils to call for attention. The word cacerolazo comes from the banging of a cacerola, which, in Spanish, means "stewpot"), vigils, sit-ins, and other creative and peaceful ways of protesting, which we strongly support and invite others to join,” the CUT said in a statement. Opposition congressional representatives and Human Rights organizations submitted an urgent request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate what they call "violent acts and arbitrary detentions," "stigmatization and criminalization" of the protest, "illegal raids" and "incitement to panic” by the government. Dilan Cruz, a Colombian teenager who took part in a protest march to demand better access to education has died, two days after he was hit on the head by a projectile fired by riot police. The death of Dilan Cruz has caused outrage and sparked fresh marches by protesters denouncing what they said was a heavy-handed police response.
You can read reports of the general strike and the continuation of protests here:
A vast group of churches and ecumenical institutions in Colombia expressed support of the peaceful expression of the Colombian people in the streets. In a signed declaration sent on November 25, 2019, the churches called for peace, life, and inclusive social justice. They described the citizen mobilizations as “historic, massive, creative, peaceful, and diverse.” They also referred to the way religious communities have been walking in the marches and the cacerolazos accompanying people on their claims for substantive changes to the current government and a hearing of this growing clamor of the citizenship. The churches are aware of and support specific demands to stop a series of reforms (grouped as “el paquetazo” or “the big pack”) that deny historically acquired economic and social rights, has demand respect for the life of leaders and social leaders, and manifests peacefully, rejecting vandalism and damage to public goods. Churches and ecumenical institutions reject the abusive use of ESMAD (acronym in Spanish for the “Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron”) police and other law enforcement authorities, affecting girls, children, youth, women, and older adults.
At the closing part of the declaration, Colombian churches and ecumenical institutions said that “As believers in the God of life, in the God who suffers from the one who suffers injustice, God has expressed in those voices that we demand our rights, among them, the fundamental right of peace with justice. This is a key moment for Colombia and we pray to God to face the soul he loves death, we pray that we all make decisions based on love and not in hatred, in a real intention to change public policies and regressive measures that they are detrimental to social achievements, human rights, peace and democracy, and the environment.”
The Mennonite Center for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action (JUSTAPAZ), a Global Ministries longstanding Partner in Colombia, is one of the signatories of the declaration.
Lectionary Selection: Luke 18:9-14
Prayers for Colombia:
Today we pray for the country of Colombia and our partners in mission there. As they work for the full implementation of the peace accords that seek to bring fighting to an end, may they feel your guiding presence. Encourage them even as they feel like a voice in the wilderness calling for peace. Give them stamina when others become discouraged at the slow pace of peacebuilding. Show them a way forward even when others return to violent confrontation.
May your justice, oh Lord, be known through the work of our partners as they minister to the millions of internally displaced persons in Colombia, as they work for the reintegration of former combatants into civilian life and as they speak out for restorative justice and reconciliation even in the midst of ongoing violence. May your healing touch be felt in their lives and seen through their ministries.
We thank you, God, for the witness of Justapaz and of the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of Colombia. Watch over them and give them strength as they witness to your peace with justice in Colombia.Read more
Y juzgará entre las naciones, y reprenderá a muchos pueblos; y volverán sus espadas en rejas de arado, y sus lanzas en hoces; no alzará espada nación contra nación, ni se adiestrarán más para la guerra. Isaías 2:4b
A principios de 2017, más de 10,000 ex guerrilleros de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) se desarmaron y desmovilizaron como resultado del acuerdo de paz de Diciembre de 2016. Así comenzó un largo y desafiante proceso de reentrada para muchos de ellos que habían sido parte del ejército rebelde durante la mayor parte de sus vidas.Read more
In November of 2016, the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) joined people all over the world in celebrating the signing of the Colombian Peace Accords between the Colombian government and the ex-guerrilla of the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia--People's Army). These Accords were achieved through decades of peace-building efforts and documentation of human rights abuses (including efforts by our Global Ministries partners), ending over fifty years of civil war that displaced millions and cost the lives of over 200,000. Today, the hope generated through these Accords is all but gone as promises made by the government remain unfulfilled and several aspects of the Accords have not been implemented.Read more
September 20-23, 2019
Colombia’s faith communities stand firmly for peace amidst grueling violence. Now they ask faith communities across the U.S. to join them in this year's Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia. Hundreds of faith communities will dedicate part of their worship service that weekend to praying and working for peace in Colombia.Read more
They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Isaiah 2:4b
In early 2017, over 10,000 former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla fighters disarmed and demobilized as a result of the December 2016 peace accord. Thus began a long and challenging reentry process for many of them who had been part of the rebel army for most of their lives.Read more
Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice Between Ex-Combatants, Victims, and CommunitiesRead more
Testimonio: Telling the Story of the Accompaniment and Solidarity in Latin America and the Caribbean Through 2018
As we end this year of witnessing God´s presence in Latin America and the Caribbean, we cannot avoid feeling in our spirit, mind and will the spiritual strength of solidarity. Our partners continued embracing the Spirit through receiving pilgrimages, sponsoring workshops and projects, sharing resources in an ecumenical way and confronting the powers that deny the fullness of life. The Caribbean Initiative came to closure with resources and experiences that will endure not only in the work of the continent but also globally. The accompaniment of our partners through civil unrest, migrations, and emergencies awakened a divine presence through the experience of contingency. The Good News were heard and shared in a powerful way.Read more