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November Prayer prompt

Pulled Out of the Rabbit Hole
Meet the Conspiracy Theorists Who are Turning to Christ
London Pregnancy & Family Support Centre is Doing Something Different And You’re Invited to Join In
Change Is Hard to Do!
Three Ways to Handle Change
BookMark - One Wrong Move (BOOK REVIEW)
Reel Review - Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (MOVIE REVIEW)
“Take Me For A Spin”
The Top 20 Christian Music Albums for Spring 2024
Why Does Servant Leadership Matter So Much?
Hospital Data Shows Longer, Costlier Stays for Patients Experiencing Homelessness
Reflections on Aurora Borealis and the Solar Eclipse

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Provided by CCNL ( Christian Churches of London)

Did you know that the verb "to stand" has at least eighteen different meanings...from getting up on our feet, to remaining motionless, or remaining valid, or tolerating something unpleasant, or undergoing something without harm ....and the list goes on. In today's culture, the preposition after "stand" may further expand its meaning and intent to make it an exhortation - to stand up, to stand with, to stand for, to stand beside or to stand back. Our 'stance', our way of standing, is critical in response to the many current and past injustices, abuses, community or personal concerns and causes, locally and globally.

Many of us desire to support and engage in meaningful, appropriate, respectful and helpful - not hurtful ways. But we struggle what it looks like individually and as the collective Church. We desire to move beyond acknowledgement (recognizing what happened); beyond sympathy (sorrow for another's pain); beyond empathy (building greater caring); beyond the charitable impulse (a much needed philanthropic response still); or beyond quick offers of knowledge, ideas, and solutions...all flowing from the "haves" to the "have-nots". Maybe we also fear sounding obligatory, insincere, or fleeting - like when a five year old hits his brother, says "sorry", and then smacks him again.

This month, once more we turn to you God, as followers of Jesus of all ages in London and area. It is significant that we pray together as a community - we are not alone. Help us sort this out in humility with a posture of listening and learning. We want to hear from you. We want to experience your power in us as your image bearers in our city. We want to align our stances and our concerns with yours. Jesus, open our eyes to see how you modeled here on earth how to stand in, what to stand for, when to stand up, who to stand with and among. For each one who engages in this prayer prompt, use our time in your presence God to reveal more of your Kingdom - now and in days ahead. Please note that this prayer is never ever intended to be a comprehensive checklist with "tick-boxes". It is meant to "prompt" or stimulate our conversations with the Living God and with each other. We invite you, Holy Spirit, as we enter into these sacred moments, please soften our hearts and minds, to nudge and arouse our willingness to hear you.

Together, we stand for...

We stand to honour those who stood for us by serving Canada through military service in times of war, conflicts and peace. We pause on Nov. 11th as Canadians to remember our veterans. We wear poppies to remind us of their service, courage and sacrifice – at home, around the world and across generations. We stand to demonstrate gratitude to those who lost lives and or loved ones, for those who suffer still from physical and mental scars, for those who gave of their time and energies to "stand on guard" for Canada, and still do. Bless them and protect them physically, emotionally, spiritually, not just for a moment on November 11, but throughout the year. Let us not forget the last twenty years of war in Afghanistan, where over 40,000 Canadians served as peacekeepers, 158 lost their lives, many returned with injuries or PTSD from what they experienced. During the pandemic, when emergencies happened, the military were called out to assist in long-term care. Heavenly Father, we stand out of respect for their willingness to go into very hard places. We pray too for the very difficult challenges currently in leadership - that you God will work among them and heal the culture. May trust be restored, may critical issues be revealed so that people are held to account, may great leaders emerge, and may conflicts continue to be resolved.

Together, we stand with...

We desire to stand with those who have suffered under racial oppression. It is not just a recent phenomenon as the struggle for equal rights for black, indigenous and people of colour, "BIPOC", has raged for centuries around the world. The late John Lewis, a man of great faith, said "Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part."(Lewis in 'Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America') Racial bias happens in London, in our schools, in our workplaces. It impacts our churches. It hurts our children. It can be deeply buried in expectations and judgements learned from our backgrounds and influences. We ask your Spirit to reveal any ways in which we, even unknowingly, have contributed to this. Guide our struggle to learn how to truly see that we all are equally created in your image, no matter the colour of our skin, no matter our gender, no matter our economic status, no matter our academic achievements, no matter our cultural heritage, no matter our faith tradition.

Please give us a passionate willingness to learn and understand more about what creates barriers between us. "Standing with" may mean participating in walks or signing petitions, it may mean listening to podcasts or reading books or articles on these topics, it may be engaging with newcomers to Canada. Lord, help us to expand our friendships with more people different from ourselves, not in a token, self-righteous way, but with sincere open arms. Teach us moment by moment, to be careful in our choice of words, mindful of stories we tell, intentional about engaging in spaces that may be outside of our familiar comfort zones.

Together, we stand up...

We stand up with Jesus in Luke 4:17-19, when he repeated Isaiah 61 "God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s time to shine!” Jesus never differentiated between a social gospel and a spiritual gospel - it is all good news! Jesus' ministry would have meant little to the culture around him if he did not care by addressing injustices. And he got in trouble for it. Good trouble. Often. May we get in good trouble - not for defending our own rights, but for defending the rights and humanity of others who are treated unfairly....and there are many. Teach us how to speak out when we see someone being treated unjustly. We fear being labelled "obnoxious" or "judgegy" as younger people might describe it, and maybe Jesus was perceived as such sometimes (see Matthew 15:7-12). Let us learn to engage in the messiness of life in healthy constructive ways. To step in as foster parents of children in need, to step up as caregivers of the elderly and sick, to acknowledge and call out sexual overtures or dismissive language when we hear it creep into conversation, to step into difficult conversations that we would probably prefer to avoid, to step beside those who are alone and hurting - not because we are right but because your love compels us. Our Father, thank you for the example of how the early church grew because they cared so much for those on the margins who the society did not care for - the dead, the dying, the lepers, the adulterers, the abandoned, the tax collectors, the widows and the orphans.

We pray for the many amazing organizations and churches in London, that need our support as they care for people who are homeless and hungry. There are very difficult times ahead as the number of people living homeless is growing, opioid, crystal meth use and addictions are wildly increasing, mental health crisis are escalating, supplies of supported housing available has not kept pace with the need - and city funding is being cut for shelters. Provoke us to pray often, learn more, stand up, volunteer with and give generously.

Together, we stand back...

Teach us to actually be still sometimes - to pause and stand back a bit - to observe, to listen, and to learn along the way in greater silence. To hear from those who have lived experience with racism, inequities, harassment, trauma, poverty, or crippling anxiety. Hear their stories with our heads and our hearts. We confess to you God that we talk more than we should - and we think we know more than we do - and we want to ignore what is difficult or unsettling if at all possible! May we not be so quick to take over because we think we know better. There is also much to discover from those who have gained greater skills and informed minds, with understanding and knowledge about best practices and complexities. They are precious gifts as role models in the midst of us. May we open ourselves up to learn from them. Help us God, to bravely identify, confront and unlearn our own harmful attitudes and actions that hinder your transformative work in us, so that we may better be your hands and feet in our community. I Peter 3 says this: "Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless - that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth." Humble us God to stand back, watch and learn well - and then go do. Let us never stop learning....each new day, a new opportunity.

Together, we stand among... As we pray, we look to you, Jesus, who came and stood among us. Philippians 2 says "...he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion." Powerful example of deep humility and sacrificial love for us to follow - thank you.

We wish this could said of us as your Church: "By this time a lot of men and women of questionable reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story of the Lost Sheep." Luke 15:1-3(MSG) Maybe we should ask you daily Jesus to bring more people of questionable reputation into our lives. Teach us to treat them as cherished friends and may our words among them be worth listening to as intently as yours were. Help us not be distracted from this sacred privilege by the grumbling and growling of others.

Together, we stand beside...

We pray for those who care quietly, unseen, often unrecognized, but ever so faithfully serve in their neighbourhood, or family or community, day after day, week after week, year after year. It may be with a spouse with dementia, or with a medically vulnerable child. It may be making and delivering meals to those who cannot get out, or by cleaning facilities after events when no one is there. It all matters. These faithful saints often don't get titles, awards or applause, nor do they seek it. They get weary like the rest of us. Give us eyes to see them - to stand beside when possible and support in ways that are life-affirming to them. They often carry heavy burdens. Often we do not know what to say or how to help....but a simple thanks and a little act of love can shown make a big difference. We were reminded in the recent CCNL October webinar on mental health of the powerful importance of being present. May we be willing to be present beside them, listen, help where needed.

I Thessalonians 1:2-6 says ""

Well-known author Henri Nouwen expresses that poignantly this way “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” Help us God we pray to be those kinds of friends - this all part of God's restorative work in our world.

Together, we stand in the love and power of Christ.

To close our prayer, some told us how appreciated the music link was in the October prayer prompt. The worship song "In Christ alone" comes to mind as we pray together. ( ***apologies - a brief ad on YouTube may appear first - be patient - it is worth it)

SUMMARY FOR NOVEMBER 2021, together we stand as the Church
1. Stand for: those in Military service, to honor them, to respect their courage and sacrifice and to thank them
2. Stand with: those who have suffered from racial bias, then and now - probe our hearts God to reveal what changes are needed in our lives
3. Stand up: Isaiah 61 reminds us that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been and should always be good news to all in transforming our world and we can be part of God's work in doing that
4. Stand back: be still, observe, listen and learn with a posture of humility
5. Stand among: the people of questionable reputation that Jesus loved
6. Stand beside: the unseen servants, those grieving, those who are weary
7. Above all, stand in the love and power of Christ.