Refugee Sunday 23.06.24

Reflection based on the Revised Common Lectionary readings

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Paul describes some of the ways he had to suffer for the gospel (v. 4-5). Many Christians around the world today are also persecuted for their faith and have to endure beatings, imprisonment and other hardships. Some are forced to flee from their country for their own safety and the safety of their families. They become refugees. Their journeys to find refuge, like Paul’s journeys, are often marked by afflictions, hardships and calamities and require great endurance (v.4). Long distances on foot, perilous sea crossings in small boats, dangerously hidden in lorries, sleeping overnight in the open, or in crowded unsanitary camps, in all weathers. When a few finally arrive at our shores they are sadly often met by hostile border security, immigration officials working within a culture of disbelief and anti-immigrant political rhetoric. These refugees can surely identify with Paul’s words “We are treated as impostors, and yet are true” (v.8). Of course, not all who seek refuge in the UK are persecuted Christians. There are many other reasons why people may need to leave their homes behind and migrate. Some are fleeing persecution on other grounds, such as sexual orientation, race or political affiliation, and some are escaping conflict. We should not forget that the UK receives only a tiny proportion of the world’s refugees – the vast majority are hosted by neighbouring countries. But some do come to the UK and claim asylum, as is their right under international law. May we open our hearts wide (v.13) to them, showing them dignity and respect as individuals, made in the image of God.

 

Psalm 9:9-20

As Christians we are called to see and treat others as God does. Psalm 9, like many other places in the Bible, declares that “The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (v.1). He cares about injustice, persecution and suffering, “he does not forget the cry of the afflicted” (v.12). We should not either. We can prayerfully consider what we can do to help alleviate the suffering of refugees and to offer welcome. We can act and we can pray. We can use the words of this Psalm to cry out to God on behalf of refugees who have suffered, saying “Rise up, O LORD! Do not let mortals prevail; let the nations be judged before you” (v.19).

 

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

Sometimes, in the face of a global refugee crisis, the obstacles and the huge size of the task, may feel overwhelming. We may think, What can I do, small and insignificant as I am? But the story of David and Goliath teaches us that the most humble and unlikely individual can overcome a giant, in the LORD’s strength. David declares to Goliath “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts” (v.45). We can ask God to help us work with others to confront and overcome God’s enemies. This might be through campaigning for political change, working towards a more welcoming and compassionate society, as God would want it. Or challenging individual attitudes which are hostile to migrants. Or maybe you could use God’s courage and strength to step out and do something new. Perhaps to engage with a local refugee support project, or to befriend someone in your community who has been through a refugee journey.

 

Mark 4:35-41

We can be certain that God cares and wants to help us. As the disciples faced the storm on the lake they woke Jesus up saying “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (v. 38). Of course he cared about them. And he not only cared, but had the power and authority to do something. “He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm” (v.39). If we know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we have access to His power. He can work through us. We can do amazing things and we can show His love to others, including refugees.

CCOW Guide to Online Study and Preaching Resources

Refugees & Forced Migration

 

Bible readings and Bible studies …

 

Baptist Union of Great Britain

http://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/448817/Welcoming_the_Stranger.aspx

As noted above. Bible studies focus on Mary and Joseph, and ‘Strangers and Aliens’

 

Bible Society

https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/content/explore_the_bible/articles_about_the_bible/2016/refugees_and_the_bible/Refugees-and-the-Bible-Course.pdf

Series of 4 Bible studies (2016) ‘Refugees and the Bible – Welcoming the stranger’, with short (1-2 minute) video introductions

 

Commitment for Life

http://www.urc.org.uk/images/mission/at_home_strange/Journeying_-_Bible_Study_and_Worship.pdf

Journeying Bible Study, including one of Elizabeth’s reflections from the Pilgrimage to Paris.

 

Singing the Faith Plus (Methodist)

http://www.singingthefaithplus.org.uk/?p=14384

An annotated list, explaining why passages have been selected and giving links to the actual readings.

 

USPG

https://d3hgrlq6yacptf.cloudfront.net/uspg/content/pages/documents/1594212911.pdf

‘Migration and Movement’ a six-week study course with Bible studies, stories and prayers.

 

 

Poems and other readings …

 

Brian Bilston

https://brianbilston.com/2016/03/23/refugees/

‘Reversible’ poem “Refugees”, which offers two perspectives on refugees and our response – a bottom-to-top reading challenging the attitudes found in a top-to-bottom reading

 

Write to Life

https://www.freedomfromtorture.org/real-voices/six-refugee-poems-a-unique-insight-into-the-life-of-refugees-and-asylum-seekers

Freedom from Torture shares six poems reflecting a variety of person experiences depicting what it’s like to be a refugee. Four are by members of their Write to Life group for former and current clients, and two are by other authors – including Warsan Shire’s poem including the lines “no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark” and “no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

 

 

Videos …

 

CAFOD

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_P9huLYmS0

3 minute animation about forced migration, suitable for children, aimed at Catholics and encouraging supporting CAFOD to help refugees

 

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

http://focusonrefugees.org/reflections-from-ctbi-group-who-visited-mediterranean-hope-refugee-projects-in-lampedusa-sicily/

2 minute video of three participants (a Catholic, a Quaker and a Presbyterian) on the CTBI visit to Mediterranean Hope refugee projects in Lampedusa and Sicily (2017).

 

Home for Good

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MX9b1ldWpo

6 minute video (Jan 2018) by Dr. Krish Kandiah calling on Christians in the UK to welcome refugee children and young people in response to the war in Syria.

 

Inscape Animations

https://inscapeanimations.com/roots-inscape-animation.html

9 minute beautifully drawn, reflective and thought-provoking animation, on migration from the earliest times, refugees’ experience, what makes us secure and our common roots

 

Jesuit Refugee Service/Mercy in Motion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziz9a-2Zhvs

‘Open Minds, Unlock Potential’ 12 minute video in which refugees speak in their own words about their experiences, interspersed with words of theological reflection from Pope Francis.

 

Refugee Highway Partnership

https://rhpeurope.net/world-refugee-sunday

Nine diverse videos on the theme of refugees, between 1 and 45 minutes long, produced between 2016 and 2021 by different organisations – documentary, interview, Biblical teaching, introductory facts

 

Welcome Churches

https://welcomechurches.org/refugeesunday/resources

4 minute film produced for Refugee Sunday 2023 encouraging UK churches to welcome refugees. Hear from some refugees who have been welcomed by a local church, a pastor of such a church, and Welcome Churches Joint CEO.

 

UNHCR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvzZGplGbL8

Who is a Refugee? 3 minute animation video sutiable for age 12+

 

 

Theological resources to give background for preaching …

 

World Council of Churches

http://www.urc.org.uk/images/mission/at_home_strange/The_Other_Is_My_Neighbour_WCC.pdf

‘The Other Is My Neighbour: Developing an Ecumenical Response to Migration’ – theological reflection paper.

 

World Evangelical Alliance

http://www.europeanea.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Justice-and-Compassion-Responding-to-the-Refugee-Crisis-in-Europe.pdf

‘Justice and Compassion: Responding to the Refugee Crisis in Europe’ – sets out some basic context (as of 2015) and offers theological reflection.