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Justice Prayers - April 17, 2024

"The Lord IS my shepherd. Not was, not may be, nor will be. . . is my shepherd on Sunday, is on Monday, and is through every day of the week; is in January, is in December, and every month of the year, is at home, and is in China; is in peace, and is in war; in abundance, and in penury." -  Hudson Taylor

Iran attacks Israel with over 300 drones, missiles

Iran unleashed a barrage of missiles and drones on Saturday night and early on Sunday, targeting Israel in retaliation for April 1’s suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus, which killed 13 people. During the attack, explosions were heard in cities across Israel, including Tel Aviv. The explosions were also heard in Jerusalem, and air raid sirens sounded in more than 720 locations as Israeli forces sought to shoot down the projectiles. Israel’s chief military spokesman, Daniel Hagari, said Iran’s attack involved more than 120 ballistic missiles, 170 drones and more than 30 cruise missiles, according to a report by The Associated Press news agency. The Israeli military also said the vast majority of the projectiles were intercepted outside the country’s borders with help from the US, the United Kingdom and France. Jordan also shot down some of the missiles aimed at Israel as they were flying through Jordanian airspace. The Israeli government has told Washington that it will carry out a response but that response will be calibrated to limit further escalation. Any direct attack on Iranian territory would be further complicated by US refusal to participate and the likely reluctance of Israel’s Arab neighbors to allow its planes to fly over their territory. The US and the EU are considering rapid new sanctions against Iran in the wake of Tehran’s large-scale air attack.

Lord God, we pray for the peacemakers to have their way to avoid what so many fear: wider conflict erupting across the region. For all those who yearn to breathe freely the air of freedom and safety, we pray.

Heavy rains kill 18 in Oman as flash floods lash UAE

Heavy rains and flash floods have swept parts of the Gulf region, killing at least 18 people in Oman and causing travel disruption in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In Oman, the death toll announced on Tuesday included at least nine schoolchildren and their driver whose vehicle was washed away by the floodwaters in Samad A’Shan on Sunday. The National Committee for Emergency Management said rescue teams were still searching for two missing people. The government gave administrative staff in public and private sectors the day off due to the bad weather conditions in several provinces, while remote work was recommended in other parts of the sultanate. Residents were also urged to evacuate to shelters if they felt they were in danger or asked by authorities to do so. Police and soldiers were deployed to the hardest-hit province of Ash Sharqiyah North to transport citizens out of flooded areas, according to state media.

Those who lost their lives in Oman this week weigh heavily on our hearts, O God of comfort. For their families and loved ones, we pray that bodies are recovered and burials are possible. Whether a result of climate change or merely a horrible storm, we pray for funds for recovery in abundance.

Canada’s Budget Revealed

In an effort to level the playing field for young people, in the 2024 federal budget, the government is targeting Canada's highest earners with new taxes in order to help offset billions in new spending to enhance the country's housing supply and social supports. Aiming to give Canadian millennials and Generation Z "a fair chance at a middle class life," Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's budget outlines how the Liberals plan to allocate $39.2 billion in net-new spending, while upholding the intended fiscal guardrails. Framed as pursuing tax fairness, one of the main ways the Liberals are planning to bring in new revenue is by "asking" Canada's very wealthiest to pay more, with Freeland saying it would be irresponsible to pass on more debt to future generations by ignoring the fiscal anchors Freeland tied government to last fall. However, with still no projected budget balance and bigger deficits forecasted in every year ahead than was previously projected, the budget — titled "Fairness for Every Generation" — notes that federal public debt charges are on track to balloon to $64.3 billion in 2028-29. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was emphatic on Monday, while speaking to a business crowd about what's to come, that his government feels now is the time to make investments "Millennials and Gen Z now make up the majority of Canada's labor force. They are our economy … They now feel like middle class stability is out of reach. We need to meet this moment, because that can't be allowed to happen," Trudeau said. 

Paying one’s bills, making rent each month, and affording the basic necessities is becoming so hard for so many. Maybe this budget brings the nation closer to some semblance of affordability, or maybe it doesn’t, but we pray that all good faith efforts be carried out in their fullness so all Canadians can thrive.

Plastic Treaty Delegates Head to Canada, A Plea From the Arctic: Don’t Forget Vulnerable Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous people from Arctic communities are calling for environmental protection in the runup to this month’s round of negotiations aimed at securing a global treaty to end plastic pollution.

U.N. talks resume April 23 in Ottawa and are expected to draw delegates from nearly 180 countries to Canada who seek to advance a plastics treaty with an ambitious charge: to embrace a broad definition of the problem that encompasses “the full life-cycle” of plastics. At the meeting, Alaskan Natives and Canadian First Nations indigenous people will urge delegates to focus on industrial chemical pollutants – including micro- and nanoplastics – that travel through ocean and air currents to far northern latitudes. They will share a new report that reviews the latest science on how chemicals and plastics are now found in traditional food sources such as walruses and seals and threaten Arctic people’s health and environment. “To learn that these microplastics are ending up in our main foods, but also in our bodies, is yet another alarm for the decision makers,” said Vi Waghiyi, environmental health and justice director with the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, an Anchorage-based environmental justice organization.

We pray for all those set to gather next week, coming from 180 nations, who seek a world free of plastic and are committed to the difficult work ahead of creating the policies, phase-out plans, life-cycle assessments, and plastic-alternatives that will deliver health improvements and planetary stability for us all. May their work be blessed and made abundant, God.

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Hearts Exchanged 

Hearts Exchanged goes beyond the headlines into deep work that wrestles with how our churches can become places of belonging and embrace God’s call to reconciliation with Indigenous neighbours. Your church can access learning grants to practice reconciliation alongside others on similar journeys. Contact us for more details.

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