Thought for the Week

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews -

Last month the BBC filmed Songs of Praise from Calais, where among the refugees a group of African Chris­tians had built a tem­po­rary Church.

The de­ci­sion brought howls of out­rage from cer­tain sec­tors of the media who saw it as en­cour­ag­ing illegal im­mi­grants.

The Daily Mail com­plained that the Calais Church was Ethiopian Ortho­dox, didn’t sing proper hymns, and was an un­suit­able place for Sally Mag­nu­son to be sent.

But do we sing songs of praise merely for our own en­ter­tain­ment? Surely, we sing these songs to Je­sus. And if we sing them to Je­sus, where would he rather we sung them from?

If Je­sus were pro­duc­ing Songs of Praise, I don’t think his first choice would be Stonelaw Church. He’d not be ad­mir­ing our or­gan or com­ple­ment­ing our choir.

No, we’d find him at the food­bank. He’d visit the job cen­tre and hang out at the ben­e­fits of­fice. And he’d be in Calais with the illegal im­mi­grants, call­ing them “friend, dis­ci­ple, brother”.

Je­sus, af­ter all, be­gan life as Mary and Joseph fled from the vi­o­lence of Herod’s regime and sought asy­lum in Egypt. What if he’d come seek­ing asy­lum in Bri­tain to­day?

There are no right an­swers to the dif­fi­cult prob­lems of immigration – but there are cer­tainly right at­ti­tudes.

It is right to lis­ten to the songs and sto­ries of those who have had to flee their homes. It is right to con­sider that they, like us, over­whelm­ingly want to live in free­dom, work, and wor­ship and raise their fam­i­lies. It is right to recog­nise that among them are Chris­tian fam­i­lies flee­ing per­se­cu­tion and vi­o­lence in their own lands, just like Je­sus did.

To­day they come from Syria and Egypt, flee­ing cru­el­ties and dan­gers, just as Je­sus did. In the gospel of Matthew, Je­sus pic­tures the day when he will call his peo­ple to him, and he will say to them “I was a stranger and you wel­comed me”. Con­fused, they will ask “Lord when were you a stranger and we wel­comed you?” And he will re­ply “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are mem­bers of my fam­ily, you did it to me.” Whether we sing songs of praise in Stonelaw Church, or in a Camp in Calais, we who are Chris­tians are mem­bers of that same fam­ily. And we sing the same songs of praise. Please pray for all dis­placed per­sons to­day, and that God will grant wis­dom and com­pas­sion to those called to welcome them. Alis­tair May Stonelaw Parish Church

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