According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), sales of weapons and military services by the world’s 100 biggest arms companies saw a record increase of 1.3% compared with the previous year - the sixth consecutive year of growth even as the global economy shrank. Some governments even accelerated payments to the arms industry in order to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. The USA dominates the industry with about 54% of all sales. Pray for Godly design and protection over all International treaties and agreements. God is shaking nations with wars and threats of war. We can pray for them to demonstrate God’s righteousness, justice, mercy and truth and to model His principles in relation to other countries. Pray for God’s protection over all international treaties and agreements.
A Marks and Spencer Christmas jumper has become a hit among female clergy, with some calling it the ‘Christmas clergy uniform’ of 2021. The £19.50 jumper is in M&S's Christmas clothing range. It is black and has the word ‘Believe’ written in bold colourful text on the front. Using the hashtag #TeamBelieve, female vicars and lay people have taken to social media sharing their pictures wearing the jumper on top of their clerical collar. 'Christmas jumper' was last week's top search on M&S.com.
For the second time in less than a year, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has blocked an attempt to make it legal for Portuguese doctors to kill their patients. The latest version of the Bill, approved by members of the National Assembly was judged to be too radical by the Roman Catholic president and returned to them unsigned. De Sousa said, If ‘fatal disease’ was no longer a prerequisite for ‘medically assisted death’, he considered the bill to be out of step with ‘the values of life and self-determination, in the context of Portuguese society’.
Praise God for a recent conviction in a South Asia sex trafficking case from 2015. The International Justice Mission supported local authorities after they rescued a minor girl and arrested a trafficker. The police, judge and prosecutors were all sensitive to the victim throughout the trial and remained focused on securing justice - leading to a strong ten-year sentence. IJM said, ‘We are so grateful for compassionate authorities helping protect thousands of girls from being abused’.
Many homeless people sleep outside in doorways, parks, bus shelters, or other unsuitable places. They often have complex physical and mental health needs with root causes that are complex - relationship breakdown, mental health issues, addiction or childhood trauma. These are not issues that can be tackled quickly; people will often need help and support for many years to ensure they never end up back on the streets. The Salvation Army warns that people risk dying on the streets this winter as the cold weather continues to bite, even though new government figures for England and Wales show a slight decrease in deaths of homeless people. When it is very cold, the Salvation Army works with local councils to keep people as safe as possible, putting the homeless up in communal spaces in Lifehouses and operating a number of night shelters run in partnership with local churches.
There are fears that the new Covid variant, Omicron, ‘could be’ more infectious and less responsive to vaccines. Therefore, from 10 December, face coverings are mandatory for most indoor venues including places of worship, theatres and cinemas - as well as on public transport and in shops and hairdressers. Masks won't be needed in pubs, restaurants, or gyms where it's ‘not practical to wear them’. From 13 December, people should work from home ‘if possible’. From 15 December (subject to parliamentary approval), people will need to show an NHS Covid vaccination status or a recent negative lateral flow test to enter nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with over 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with over 4,000 people and any venue with over 10,000 people. They must also do lateral flow tests (LFT) before entering high-risk settings like crowded places involving people you wouldn't normally come into contact with, or when visiting a vulnerable person.
Over two millennia have passed since Jesus said ‘Go out and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame’ (Luke 14:2b). 39 million of the world's people are blind, 70 million are deaf. See In Victorian times some churchgoers gave to institutions that housed the disabled. Do we still see a disabled person as someone we do 'good things to' rather than teach, disciple and even allow to lead? When we see a disabled person in Christian ministry, do we see them as 'an inspiration' just because of their disability, or do we recognise them as a person gifted by God to minister? How welcoming are our churches to disabled people? Ask God to help us to include and disciple more people with disabilities just as much as anyone else. Pray for more churches to encourage and train disabled people into leadership roles.
BBC Radio 5 has been broadcasting listeners' opinions on a video showing Downing Street staff joking about a Christmas party last year when everyone was on lockdown. Boris Johnson said he is ‘sickened’ by the video while maintaining there was no party and no Covid rules were broken. However the BBC was told that dozens of people partied at Downing Street during lockdown. Labour leader Keir Starmer said Boris is ‘taking the public for fools’, and the SNP called for his resignation. One backbench Tory MP said, ‘The buck stops at the top.’ Now there is to be an official investigation into Covid rule breaches at government staff parties last year. Any potential criminality uncovered would be reported to the police.