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NOEL’S PRAYER PAGE              PEACE, JUSTICE AND THE ENVIRONMENT I am writing this on is Pentecost Sunday. Robert led a powerful service this morning, illuminating the way that God can work through us, if we invite him to. A united church at prayer can acquire the strength, not only of its members, but also of the Holy Spirit.  At a time such as this, when many people across the globe are commemorating the outbreak of World War 1 (one hundred years ago), and D Day landings in World War 2 (seventy years ago).  Questions are being asked such as “How should Christians respond?” Surely, we should pray that war can become a thing of the past. People really believed this possible in 1945 when the United Nations was born. Sadly, our high hopes have been buried amid disillusionment with past failures. But if we have faith and determination, and pray with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, all things are possible. That is the promise that Jesus gave us - and, in our time, we have seen miracles, the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of apartheid, for example. Let us pray in faith, aiming for great possibilities. Loving God, we confess our part in the failure to honour those who died, by not working hard enough to build the better world they fought for. We acknowledge our timidity and lack of faith, and ask that you can lead us in the holy task of building that better world of which Jesus spoke.  Attempts have been made to abolish war through instruments such as the United Nations, and its specialised agencies, such as The High Commission for Refugees, continuously supporting the growing numbers refuges in numerous countries, The U.N. International Children’s Fund, which supports women and children in dire poverty, and the many other agencies, both UN and voluntary, which aim to improve justice, health, education and equality in poverty stricken countries. We pray for all those who work in organisations such as these, and for all those they try to help, but we must go further by striving to eliminate elements of greed, selfishness and fear within ourselves. These traits are also reflected in the member states of the UN which still allow such things to happen. Strengthen the hands of those who work for peace and reconciliation. Give us the confidence to do all we can as individuals to bring in Your Kingdom. We are very conscious that we live in a divided world, where are huge differences in the lifestyles of the very rich and the very poor. We know that our monetary systems enhance these divisions, and yet we do not seem able to devise an effective alternative. In many countries there are gross injustices, such as caste traditions, which keep some people in servitude or slavery, and even in democratic countries, where criminals play fast and loose with the lives of vulnerable people such as illegal immigrants and bonded labourers. We pray that ways will be found for fairer systems to prevail, that hearts will be touched, and wrongs will be put right., that justice will be done and slaves can be freed. We pray that in due course, the UN Developments goals can be achieved, providing fairer systems of education and employment, and improved health services across the world.   God gave us a bountiful planet, with fertile fields, flowing rivers and acres of forest land. There was enough for all his creatures, but over the centuries, mankind has claimed the planet for its own. We have destroyed thousands of species of animals and plants, and introduced the concept of land ownership by wealthy persons or multi-national organisations. Industrialisation has polluted the soil, the waters and the air, and today life on earth is increasingly threatened, and poorest people are amongst the first to suffer.   There is still hope that we will change our ways, but time is running perilously short. We ask forgiveness, Lord, for the way we have despoiled your creation, and request that we can be guided to live sustainably, reducing our carbon emissions and respecting the eco-systems, thus enabling a better quality of life to be enjoyed by all the people on the planet. We pray that our eyes will be opened so that the human race can develop concern and respect for the life styles of the other creatures with whom we are privileged to share this wonderful world.   We ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.               Amen.
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