Gracious God and most merciful Father, you have granted us the rich and precious jewel of your holy Word: Assist us with your Spirit, that the same Word may be written in our hearts to our everlasting comfort, to reform us, to renew us according to your own image, to build us up and edify us into the perfect dwelling place of your Christ, sanctifying and increasing in us all heavenly virtues; grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
The United Arab Emirates just announced some big changes to its work schedule.
The Gulf nation is transitioning to a 4.5-day workweek, with weekends to consist of Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday.
That’s significant for two reasons: It likely makes the UAE the first nation to formalize a workweek shorter than five days, and it also brings the country more in line with Western schedules. Up until now, the UAE has had a Friday-Saturday weekend, which is the standard in many predominantly Muslim countries.
The United Arab Emirates is transitioning to a 4-and-a-half day workweek aimed at enhancing social wellbeing. The change likely makes it the first nation to formalize a workweek shorter than 5 days.https://t.co/aNMC9ObAIY
— NPR (@NPR) December 8, 2021
The effort comes as all parts of the Church are working to reach net-zero carbon by 2030.
To fit the ground source heat pump, The Parish of St Laurence C of E Primary School in Chorley, Lancashire, had to install 4,500 metres of piping under its playing field, and drill seven bore holes to a depth of 150m.
A ground source heat pump works by drawing on heat below the ground with water heated as it is pumped through underground pipes. The water is then pressurised and used to heat a building.
The school’s efforts have received national acclaim, including at the Green Church Showcase – an event hosted in Glasgow during the COP26 summit.
Alongside the heating improvements, all lighting throughout the building has also been converted to more efficient LED bulbs, and solar panels have been added to the roof. Steps have also been taken to make the building more airtight, reducing draughts and heat loss.
We featured the amazing work of @BDBofE in our Green Church Showcase. Now you can read more about how one school cut their emissions with a heat pump under their playing field. #NetZerohttps://t.co/QLYcHzkI9N
— Church of England Environment Programme (@CofEEnvironment) November 25, 2021
Andy John, who has served as the Bishop of Bangor for the past 13 years, has been chosen as the 14th Archbishop of Wales.
He succeeds Bishop John Davies who retired in May after four years as the leader of the Church in Wales.
Archbishop Andy was elected having secured a two-thirds majority vote from members of the Electoral College on the first day of its meeting at Holy Trinity Church, Llandrindod Wells. The election was immediately confirmed by the five other diocesan bishops and announced at the door of the church by the Provincial Secretary of the Church in Wales, Simon Lloyd.
The decision could have taken up to three days, but was made within a day. https://t.co/BCmq18Q5Yl
— ITV Wales News (@ITVWales) December 6, 2021
The earliest studies on omicron are in and the glimpse they’re providing is cautiously optimistic: while vaccines like the one made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new variant, protection can be fortified with boosters.
Studies from South Africa and Sweden are showing that omicron does, as feared, cause a loss of immune protection — but not a complete one. In a study of blood plasma from people given two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, there was a 41-fold drop in levels of virus-blocking antibodies compared with the strain circulating at the start of the pandemic.
A separate study from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute was more optimistic, finding the decline in antibodies against omicron was only slightly worse than for delta, the strain currently causing most Covid-19 cases worldwide.
The earliest studies on omicron are in. While vaccines like the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech may be less powerful against the new variant, protection can be fortified with boosters https://t.co/WpU1iiZ4Mt
— Bloomberg (@business) December 8, 2021
What this rest presupposes…. 5. It contains, (1.) A ceasing from means of grace ; 6. (2.) A perfect freedom from all evils ; 7. (3.) The highest degree of the saints’ personal perfection, both in body and soul ; 8. (4.) The nearest enjoyment of God the Chief Good; 9-14. (5.) A sweet and constant action of all the powers of soul and body in this enjoyment of God ; as, for instance, bodily senses, knowledge, memory, love, joy, together with a mutual love and joy.
—The Saints Everlasting Rest (1652)
For your viewing pleasure: A 1677 edition of Richard Baxter’s The Saints’ Everlasting Rest.
It was once owned by CH Spurgeon & is now a part of The Spurgeon Library at MBTS. pic.twitter.com/aq7Fq9heTB
— Jason Keith Allen (@jasonkeithallen) September 21, 2020
We offer thanks, most gracious God, for the devoted witness of Richard Baxter, who out of love for thee followed his conscience at cost to himself, and at all times rejoiced to sing thy praises in word and deed; and we pray that our lives, like his, may be well-tuned to sing the songs of love, and all our days be filled with praise of Jesus Christ our Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
8 Dec 1691: d. Richard Baxter, puritan, theologian, major writer, poet #otd
His style of writing is captivating. pic.twitter.com/B8TDoJXOPV
— John McCafferty (@jdmccafferty) December 8, 2021
Thou who with thine own mouth hast avouched that at midnight, at an hour when we are not aware, the Bridegroom shall come: Grant that the cry, The Bridegroom cometh, may sound evermore in our ears, that so we be never unprepared to meet him, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Good morning 💗 pic.twitter.com/rULDcSYmia
— Gülistan (@GuIistan_) December 8, 2021
Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Downtown Banff, Alberta, Canada pic.twitter.com/AoomYBYG7n
— Elif Anna Karaatay (@elifkaraatay) December 8, 2021
Listen to it all and there is more there.
'Ezra in prayer', Book of Ezra 9:6. Engraving by Gustave Doré pic.twitter.com/xjovJG5igr
— Y💖Philippians2:10-11📖Romans12:2✨#Anti-idolatry🔥 (@doorzienigheid) December 30, 2020
President Franklin Roosevelt’s somber speech to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives the day after “naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan” attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet — “a date which will live in infamy,” in his estimation — has indeed never been forgotten.
“It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days, or even weeks ago,” said Roosevelt. He noted that Malaya, Guam, the Philippines, Wake Island and Midway Island were also attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, but neglected to mention that Japanese forces had begun invading Thailand hours earlier, on Dec. 8, across the international date line.
Some scholars have pondered what might have happened if Japan had only moved in Southeast Asia and not attacked Pearl Harbor. Where would the Americans have been? Would Japan have kept its Asian conquests
Japan’s invasion of Thailand, nearly simultaneous with its attack on Pearl Harbor, heralded the bloody twilight of the British Empire.https://t.co/ySHPWH4wnZ
— Nikkei Asia (@NikkeiAsia) December 7, 2021
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
Eighty years ago today. Remembering their sacrifice and the world they bequeathed to us. pic.twitter.com/iG88jVrRam
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) December 7, 2021
The mother of four shakes the grubby plastic jerry can and sighs. “It’s not really enough,” she says, gesturing first to the almost empty five litre container, then the skinny children peering through the doorway. “But it has to be enough for now.”
Not so long ago, water was plentiful in this hot and arid part of southern Madagascar, an island some 250 miles off the coast of Africa. Then the drought descended.
In the last two to three years the price of water has jumped 300 per cent, in a region where 91 per cent of people earn less than $1.90 a day. Incomes here are inconsistent at best, but a family selling two to three bags of charcoal a month could expect to earn between 20,000 and 30,000 Malagasy ariary – $5 to $7.50.
Horariby and her children have a choice: they either trudge 12 kilometres on foot to collect water from the nearest large town, or buy it at twice the price from a cattle drawn cart that comes to her village, piled high with yellow jerry cans.
Read it all 9subscription).
Water scarcity as a result of loss of forests. Madagascar = Hunger + water scarcity + malnutrition. If we do not engage in saving our forests and afforestation of the lands we live on then this is the dead end for all of humanity. https://t.co/SJ21TLvjGe
— Veeresh Shivalingappa Sajjan (@sajjanveereshs) December 7, 2021
A voice always worth listening to: (NPR)–The NIH director on why Americans aren’t getting healthier, despite medical advances
Selena Simmons-Duffin: After you announced you’d be stepping down from the director role, you told the New York Times that one of your “chief regrets” was the persistence of vaccine hesitancy during the pandemic. How are you thinking about the role NIH could play in understanding this problem?
Francis Collins: I do think we need to understand better how — in the current climate — people make decisions. I don’t think I anticipated the degree to which the tribalism of our current society would actually interfere with abilities to size up medical information and make the kinds of decisions that were going to help people.
To have now 60 million people still holding off of taking advantage of life saving vaccines is pretty unexpected. It does make me, at least, realize, boy, there are things about human behavior that I don’t think we had invested enough into understanding. We basically have seen accurate medical information overtaken, all too often, by the inaccurate conspiracies and false information on social media. It’s a whole other world out there. We used to think that if knowledge was made available from credible sources, it would win the day. That’s not happening now.
We spoke with Dr. Francis Collins as he prepares to leave his NIH post after 12 years. He reflects on biomedical advances, the dangers of polarizing medicine and the huge health gaps that still exist in the U.S.https://t.co/EM70yEg2jn
— NPR (@NPR) December 7, 2021
Ambrose for his Feast Day–The law says: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God.” It said not: “Speak,” but “Hear.”
Let us hearken, then, to the master of precaution: “I said, I will take heed to my ways;” that is, “I said to myself: in the silent biddings of my thoughts, I have enjoined upon myself, that I should take heed to my ways.” Some ways there are which we ought to follow; others as to which we ought to take heed. We must follow the ways of the Lord, and take heed to our own ways, lest they lead us into sin. One can take heed if one is not hasty in speaking. The law says: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God.” [Deut. 6:4] It said not: “Speak,” but “Hear.” Eve fell because she said to the man what she had not heard from the Lord her God. The first word from God says to thee: Hear! If thou hearest, take heed to thy ways; and if thou hast fallen, quickly amend thy way. For: “Wherein does a young man amend his way; except in taking heed to the word of the Lord?” [Ps. 119:9] Be silent therefore first of all, and hearken, that thou fail not in thy tongue.
It is a great evil that a man should be condemned by his own mouth. Truly, if each one shall give account for an idle word,[Matthew 12:36] how much more for words of impurity and shame? For words uttered hastily are far worse than idle words. If, therefore, an account is demanded for an idle word, how much more will punishment be exacted for impious language?
—On the Duties of the Clergy I.ii.7-8
Bishop of Milan, a theologian & one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was serving as the Roman governor of Aemilia-Liguria in Milan when he was unexpectedly made Bishop of Milan in 374. He is a Doctor of the Church. pic.twitter.com/h2sPKHOEqF
— NYPD Holy Name (@NYPD_HOLYNAME) December 7, 2021
O God, who didst give to thy servant Ambrose grace eloquently to declare thy righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of thy Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellency in preaching, and fidelity in ministering thy Word, that thy people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Today we celebrate
Saint Ambrose, Bishop, Doctor
on Tuesday of the 2nd week of Advent pic.twitter.com/THmu3XpUTn
— World of Our Lord (@josephs_chapel) December 7, 2021
Almighty and most merciful God, who has given the Bible to be the revelation of thy great love to man, and of thy power and will to save him: Grant that our study of it may not be made vain by the callousness or the carelessness of our hearts, but that by it we may be confirmed in penitence, lifted to hope, made strong for service, and, above all, filled with true knowledge of thee and of thy Son Jesus Christ.
There are no roads or trails at the @USFWS Pierce National Wildlife Refuge. Closed to the public, this refuge is literally for the birds.
It's home to threatened and endangered species, as well as one of the last remaining runs of chum salmon on the Columbia River. pic.twitter.com/8DBy4Y7ls0
— US Department of the Interior (@Interior) December 5, 2021
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For thy steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to thee.
— James MacInnes (@Macinnesplant) December 7, 2021
Bishop Christopher has been Bishop of Coventry since 2008. After teaching in secondary education, he trained for ordination and pursued doctoral studies. He has served in parochial and chaplaincy ministry and in theological education, latterly as Principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge and in 2010 was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity by the University of London for his services to education. He was also awarded a Lambeth DD earlier this year.
Commenting on his appointment Bishop Christopher said, “Coventry Diocese is home to a number of Further and Higher Education institutions, and I am looking forward to extending my links with other institutions more widely and to demonstrating the Church’s commitment to this vital sector of our national life.”
The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: “We are delighted that Bishop Christopher has accepted this role. His academic background, experience and wisdom will be a blessing to this important area of our work….
— Nigel Genders (@nigelgenders) December 3, 2021
The latest Supreme Court case over public funding for religious schooling examines a policy in Maine, a state dotted with small towns too tiny to run their own public schools. Over half of the state’s school districts (officially called “school administrative units” or SAUs for short) contract with and pay tuition costs to another nearby school of the parents’ choice—public or private.
And that’s where the hangup lies. By law, Maine mandates that partnering private schools be “nonsectarian in nature, in accordance with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution” to receive the funding, and three Christian families in the state are challenging the requirement.
The Supreme Court will hear their case, Carson vs. Makin, this week. The decision could set further precedent in defining the distance between church and state and the approach to religious freedom itself, as it makes a distinction between barring public funding due to religious identity of the recipient and barring funding to the religious purpose it would be used to advance.
Is there a difference between the state blocking funding to Christian schools because they are Christian and doing so because they teach Christian lessons?
A look at the church-state separation case coming to the Supreme Court this week: https://t.co/L5pzqZZfb1
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) December 6, 2021
A time for sharing, love and faith–a new Church of England film explores what is at the heart of Christmas
The Revd Tasha Critchlow, a hospital chaplain in London, speaks about the challenges of the past 18 months, adding: “Christmas brings people together in their desire to fight darkness and to find light.”
Kim Rowbotham, from Kettering, speaks about the challenges for bereaved people over the Christmas period, drawing through her own experience in losing her daughter.
“There is so much comfort and hope that I take from the Christmas story,” she says.
“Jesus came in to the world, this broken world, to give us a certain hope.”
She adds: “If I had to sum up Christmas in one word that word would be love.”
Built on the ashes of 10 years of war in Syria, an illegal drug industry run by powerful associates and relatives of President Bashar al-Assad has grown into a multibillion-dollar operation, eclipsing Syria’s legal exports and turning the country into the world’s newest narcostate.
Its flagship product is captagon, an illegal, addictive amphetamine popular in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. Its operations stretch across Syria, including workshops that manufacture the pills, packing plants where they are concealed for export and smuggling networks to spirit them to markets abroad.
An investigation by The New York Times found that much of the production and distribution is overseen by the Fourth Armored Division of the Syrian Army, an elite unit commanded by Maher al-Assad, the president’s younger brother and one of Syria’s most powerful men.
Major players also include businessmen with close ties to the government, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other members of the president’s extended family, whose last name ensures protection for illegal activities, according to The Times investigation, which is based on information from law enforcement officials in 10 countries and dozens of interviews with international and regional drug experts, Syrians with knowledge of the drug trade and current and former United States officials.
Powerful allies of Syria’s president are making and selling amphetamines, turning the country into the world’s newest narcostate, a New York Times investigation found. The drug trade has emerged in the ruins of a decade of war. https://t.co/JcaKroiC5S
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) December 6, 2021
Classified American intelligence reports suggest China intends to establish its first permanent military presence on the Atlantic Ocean in the tiny Central African country of Equatorial Guinea, according to U.S. officials.
The officials declined to describe details of the secret intelligence findings. But they said the reports raise the prospect that Chinese warships would be able to rearm and refit opposite the East Coast of the U.S.—a threat that is setting off alarm bells at the White House and Pentagon.
Principal deputy U.S. national security adviser Jon Finer visited Equatorial Guinea in October on a mission to persuade President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his son and heir apparent, Vice President Teodoro “Teodorin” Nguema Obiang Mangue, to reject China’s overtures.
“As part of our diplomacy to address maritime-security issues, we have made clear to Equatorial Guinea that certain potential steps involving [Chinese] activity there would raise national-security concerns,” said a senior Biden administration official.
The great-power skirmishing over a country that rarely draws outside attention reflects the rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. The two countries are sparring over the status of Taiwan, China’s testing of a hypersonic missile, the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues.
"US finds itself maneuvering to try to block #China from projecting its military power from new overseas bases, from Cambodia to the #UAE. In #EquatorialGuinea, [#PRC] likely [has] an eye on #Bata..already has a #Chinese-built deep-water commercial #port"https://t.co/JMIF9yMa0w
— Andrew Erickson 艾立信 (@AndrewSErickson) December 6, 2021
Almighty God, who in thy love didst give to thy servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on land and sea: Grant, we pray thee, that thy Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Today is the feast day of #StNicholas, whose kindness & generosity are thought to have inspired today’s Father Christmas 🎅
— Canterbury Cathedral (@No1Cathedral) December 6, 2021
O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power
and come among us,
and with great might succour us;
that whereas, through our sins and wickedness
we are grievously hindered
in running the race that is set before us,
your bountiful grace and mercy
may speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honour and glory, now and for ever.
Good morning! Sunrise in Kenya, Africa. pic.twitter.com/09wsExIjHs
— ღ☆•° ღ☆ (@secretsunset2) December 6, 2021
To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.
— Paul Smith (@bronzefish) December 6, 2021
Almighty God, who in many and various ways didst speak to thy chosen people by the prophets, and hast given us, in thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the hope of Israel: Hasten, we beseech thee, the coming of the day when all things shall be subject to him, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.
Madrid during Sunrise 🌅 pic.twitter.com/sqGroQbIPS
— Scott ☘ (@Havenlust) December 5, 2021
Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechari′ah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marveled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
And his father Zechari′ah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people,
Grindelwald, Switzerland. pic.twitter.com/L432BzQ2T1
— Murat (@lovesgeography) December 5, 2021