An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2: 13
Just as the baby Jesus and his parents fled from King Herod’s wrath, millions of refugees and asylum seekers around the world seek security and protection in a foreign land. In this season, we remember those who must flee their homeland because of threats of violence, persecution, and death. Who are the angels who will watch over their perilous journey? Where are the wise men and women who will thwart the evil powers?Read more
Lectionary Selection: Matthew 25:14-30
Prayers for the Philippines:
Dear Creating and Creative God,
At this moment Lord we too often see our leaders utilize fear, power, and violence as ways to address this global health crisis. They are not the servants that you call them to be. They do not fulfill your reign but instead, extrajudicial killings are on the rise once again threatening the lives of human rights defenders throughout the Philippines, so-called ‘Anti-Terror’ Laws are passed to firm the dangerous grasp of the current government, and lies live on the lips of those who are put into positions to protect us but continue to cause more harm.
Lord, we know you put firm footing beneath our steps us we stumble forward. Remind us of the disciples you wish us to be. Actively engaging in our surroundings and not settling for a status quo but creating your kingdom here amongst us.
We welcome your peace and grace to renew our lives.
In your loving name, AmenRead more
Lectionary Selection: Philippians 4:1-9
Prayers for Japan:
Loving God, in the midst of the long-lasting pandemic we pray for the people of the world, especially those who are most vulnerable, those who are grieving, those who have lost jobs, or hope for the future.
We pray for those who are blamed for having caught the virus or shunned because a family member has. Let us not let the spread of blaming or shaming add more suffering.
We pray for the leaders of the nations, that they will put politics aside to save lives and uphold democracy at this critical time.Read more
The United Church of Christ through Global Ministries has a long history of partnership and solidarity with the people of the Philippines. For the past few years, many of our church partners have been targeted by the government of President Duterte. Both the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines have been “red tagged” as groups that support the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) fighting against the government. Their offices have been searched and pastors and church members have been harassed, arrested, and/or killed.Read more
You are invited to share love and hope by participating in the Christmas Card Project with partner churches in Japan this year. This project was started in 2013 in response to the terrible devastation that our partners experienced after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster of 2011. Each year, 35 to 40 UCC and Disciples of Christ churches have reached out globally through prayer by sending a Christmas card to one or two churches in northeastern Japan. This year, given the global COVID-19 pandemic, we know that churches on both sides of the Pacific are faced with unprecedented challenges. Even as we might feel overwhelmed by our own predicament, God calls us to reach out to care and connect.Read more
The International Ecumenical Convocation on the Defense of Human Rights in the Philippines was held as an online forum on Thursday, 17 September 2020. The National Council of Churches in the Philippines, in cooperation with the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice), ACT Alliance, The Asia Pacific Forum, Christian Conference of Asia, Council for World Mission, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, National Council of Churches in Korea, United Evangelical Mission, World Communion of Reformed Churches, World Council of Churches, and World Student Christian Federation convened the historic meeting, which concluded with the reading of a Unity Statement for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Philippines.
While Philippines is bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, the human rights situation in the country has been exponentially worsening. In July 2020 the Philippines government enacted the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which legitimizes unlawful arrests and detention, undermines the due process of law, and runs contrary to Philippine Constitution. Critics say the legislation undermines the Philippine Constitution’s bill of rights guaranteeing to every Filipino basic and fundamental rights and liberties.
In critical times such as these, the NCCP, in cooperation with EcuVoice and international partners, convened the consultation to call on the accompaniment and solidarity of the wider international ecumenical community for the protection and promotion of human rights in the Philippines. Partner organizations and churches are invited into a space of deep reflection and concrete action through an online International Ecumenical Convocation on the Defense of Human Rights in the Philippines.
Lectionary Selection: Exodus: 14:19-31
Prayers for Fiji:
In the darkest of times, the Lord is there with us. While the Egyptian army pursued the Israelites on their trek to a better life, God was ever-present and assisted the refugees all along the way. In the final desperate hour, intervening through the natural world, God played a pivotal role by acting as both a protector and ultimate defender of the Israelites. This intervention can be viewed as a balancing of the scales between two peoples that had long interacted with one persistently holding an advantageous position. In our world today, there is a need for people to recognize the incidents where a measure of intervention is necessary. Many are struggling for freedom, independence, they and their children's future, and even more efforts that may not ever be recognized.
I would bring to the table the people of the Pacific Islands working to live through the impact COVID-19 has had on their livelihood, those who are impacted by the changes in weather intensity and sea level, and also those working to free themselves from injustice be it institutionalized or maintained by force. May blessing and prayers be with the people that work to bring stability and equality to themselves and others particularly in the trying times of today as we struggle to find a balance in our lives. With the idea of normal shifting, it is important to look outwards to the people that do not have the luxury of having the security of a known future with the changing of climates and loss of economic opportunity. Prayer for those who feel lost in their efforts, and may all find the strength to move forward. Let tomorrow always be better than today and may the world advance to a brighter future. Amen.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Romans 12:9-21
Prayers for Hong Kong:
O Lord, in the face of so much evil in our world, guide us on the noble path in obedience to Your holy commands. When facing overwhelming odds, we remember that You only call us to be faithful. “Success” in the world’s eyes is not guaranteed. We leave the final judgment to You, our just and merciful God. May the Church and the people of Hong Kong be Your faithful witnesses to the truth: Love is stronger than hate, Good is stronger than evil, Hope is stronger than despair. Protect all those on the frontlines in Hong Kong and China fighting for justice, especially the young who have risked so much so that all may live with dignity and freedom. God of grace and glory, grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the facing of these difficult days ahead. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, Amen.
14 August 2020, originally posted here
On 14 August, the World Council of Churches (WCC) will publish The Light of Peace: Churches in Solidarity with the Korean Peninsula, a collection of resources WCC member churches can use to recognize 70 years of unresolved conflict on the Korean Peninsula during 2020.