Last month the head teachers’ association confirmed many schools were moving their nativity plays online due to Covid concerns. But recently Boris Johnson said the move to Plan B Covid restrictions does not mean schools and churches should cancel nativity plays. He said, ‘We don’t want kids to be taken out of school before the end of term, we don’t want nativity plays to be cancelled. We think that it is OK to keep going with Christmas parties, but everybody should exercise due caution, have ventilation, wash your hands, get a test before you go - give everybody else confidence they are going to be meeting somebody who is not contagious.’
Downing Street intended to hold a Christmas party this year, but following the renewal of compulsory mask wearing and restricted numbers allowed in venues it was cancelled. Pray that managers and leaders of councils, commerce and industry will also take practical precautions when considering Christmas celebrations. Sajid Javid warns Omicron is spreading at a rate ‘that we've never seen before’. Pray for peace and safety to flow through our streets and for health and hope to be in our homes. A new target to give all eligible adults booster jabs by 1 January at hundreds more sites across the country means the PM and NHS are appealing for volunteers to help run these vaccination centres. They need tens of thousands of trained vaccinators and stewards to achieve the accelerated booster rollout. Pray for an exceptional number of qualified medics and helpers to be established on sites quickly.
Boris Johnson won the biggest Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher. His popularity among Conservative MPs marked the end of Tory Brexit rebellions. Now many believe his popularity and authority is waning. When the Commons voted on new Covid regulations on 14 December, Boris was forced to rely on opposition votes to get his plans through. The Conservative party has become rebellious toward their leader. Pray for God to break the stronghold of rebellion in politics. Pray for Boris to make wise decisions that are heaven-sent, uniting the government and meeting the needs of the nation as it faces Omicron. The chancellor has raised concerns about the medium-term costs of handling the pandemic in a ‘Covid O’ meeting of senior ministers this week. Several billion pounds have been allocated to cover vaccines, boosters, and therapeutic drugs costs until April. Ask God to give prudent strategies to the chancellor which cover unforeseen Covid costs while avoiding raising taxes.
Safety trials are underway for a Cambridge-led vaccine that could be used as a booster targeting Covid variants which threaten future coronavirus pandemics. The first volunteer received the vaccine on 14 December through a needle-free ‘injection’ - a blast of air that delivers it into the skin. This offers a possible future alternative to people who fear needle-based jabs. If it is successful it could be scaled up and manufactured as a powder to boost global vaccination efforts, particularly in low and middle-income countries. As new variants emerge there is a need for newer technologies. It’s vital that science continues to develop new generation vaccines. Pray for this new trial to lead the way for vaccines that will prime the immune system to respond with broader, stronger protection. The vaccine trial will follow up volunteers for about a year to ensure it is safe.
Many Covid patients admitted to hospital are unvaccinated and then ask for the vaccine on arrival, when it is too late. Hospitals are treating unprecedented numbers of sick people at the start of what could be the toughest winter in NHS history. One doctor said, ‘The recent volume of patients is higher than ever before. Everyone wants to give their best, but sometimes that is just not possible’. The treatment backlog caused by Covid has made things worse, and there are more mental health issues and alcohol abuse due to the current constraints. See There are currently no restrictions on the number of visitors allowed to care homes, but the government has confirmed it is considering restricting visits to homes to three named people over Christmas as a consequence of the uncertainty caused by the Omicron variant. Pray for the shadow of trauma, fear, and uncertainty caused by Covid to be lifted.
Atheism assumes various disguises, including wokeism – politically correct views on gender, race, sexuality etc. It comes in the wake of secular humanism and challenges Judeo-Christian principles in our culture. An example of wokery is Church of England’s Jayne Ozanne calling for a ban on ‘hate prayer’, asking the government to ban consensual prayer that helps same-sex people abstain from sex. It’s a reminder of Jesus’ warning that there will come a time when believers will betray one another (Matthew 10:21). See Meanwhile 1,700 church leaders and pastoral workers warned the Government over the conversion therapy ban and say they will continue to proclaim Jesus Christ’s lordship even if it means going to prison TalkRadio discussions on 'conversion therapy' turned into a rant about Christianity - a sad reminder of how far this culture is from discovering Jesus and his pattern for our lives. The Government’s consultation on conversion therapy ends on 4 February.
Rev Dave Young (Chinese name Ho Ming Lun), vicar of two churches in London, recently took part in the launch of the Teahouse - a network of clergy and ordinands across the CofE with a Chinese heritage. It began in 2020 with a WhatsApp group and Zoom meetings. The Archbishop of York said he is ‘delighted to see the formal launch of the Teahouse group’. The launch of the Teahouse comes as thousands of British overseas passport holders from Hong Kong are arriving in the UK. Rev Young said, ‘With the arrival of many Hong Kongers over recent months, it is important that the Church welcomes them to our communities and churches. On 13 December he welcomed over 70 new Hong Kong arrivals to a special welcome event at his church with spreads of Chinese and British food shared among the families
K was stalked and threatened with kidnap and torture by S, a fellow student, at Oxford Brookes University. But the university's failure to act swiftly left her terrified. S was expelled from the university this month, even though he had admitted stalking her in September and K had been reporting him to Brookes since 2020 when she first encountered him. K eventually reported the violent threats to the police, who treated the threats seriously and provided outstanding support. S admitted stalking and was given a four-month suspended sentence this week, after the court heard he would leave the UK within days. K now wants universities to overhaul policies and toughen disciplinary codes so that they can put protective measures in place or suspend students where there is clear evidence of sexual misconduct. The university said they accepted there are lessons to learn for the future where threatening student behaviour may also constitute a criminal offence.