What are the everyday things we take for granted. Returning from Sri Lanka it was drinking water from the tap that I really value, but now I just take it for granted again.
What if the most important freedom to you have was taken away, or if to exercise that freedom put your liberties and even your life in danger from persecutors.
A report published in May, commissioned by the then Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, found that worldwide, “the overwhelming majority (80%) of persecuted religious believers are Christians.” Some highlights from the report include:-
- “The Arab-Israeli conflict has caused the majority of Palestinian Christians to leave their homeland. The population of Palestinian Christians has dropped from 15% to 2%.”
- “A century ago Christians comprised 20% of the population in the Middle East and north Africa, but since then the proportion has fallen to less than 4%, or roughly 15 million people.”
In today’s lectionary reading from Luke Ch 21 vs 5-19, Jesus forewarns his disciples that they will be persecuted for being counted as one of his followers. If our faith, our relationship with God is the most important thing in our lives, how much do we take for granted the religious freedoms we have. Imagine not being able to burst into song with a hymn that wells from deep within you as you do chores around the home, for fear of a neighbour listening through the wall and reporting you, or not being able to come together with fellow believers.
Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, use the prayer below. And Wednesday week, 27th November is #RedWednesday, a time for people of all faiths, and no faith, to come together in solidarity for Christians and others who are oppressed, forced from their homes, rejected from education and jobs and very often killed just because of their religion. The encouragement that day is to wear something red, the Christian colour of martyrdom, as a sign of solidarity for our sisters and brothers around the world.
For all those discriminated against, imprisoned and even facing death on account of their faith in Christ, we pray:
Loving Father, you satisfy our every need; protect, comfort and sustain your children. Merciful Jesus, you experienced unimaginable pain and sorrow for our sake. Strengthen and encourage your servants who are enduring trials. Spirit of Comfort, you accompany us in times of sorrow and of joy. Be with your people today and fill them with a renewed hope.
For all those who are causing the suffering we pray:
Almighty Father, you hold all of creation. May the hearts of those who persecute your children be transformed. Victorious Jesus, you conquered sin and death. May those responsible for cruelty, and suffering be convicted of their error, and seek truth and justice. Spirit of Truth, move in the hearts of persecutors today.
For us, we pray:
Bountiful Father, you created us in your image and likeness. May we never take for granted the extravagant gift of freedom you bestow upon us. Compassionate Jesus, you always sought out those in need. Teach us your ways of mercy that we might be attentive to the suffering of others. Spirit of Fortitude, you give us the courage to stand up for the truth. Move our hearts to action and prayer whenever we see injustice against your Church. Amen.