October 2015

From the Rectory

Trekking across a muddy field in the rain, carrying as much as I could possibly manage, checking no one was left straggling too far behind and getting lost...

It was only packing up at the end of Greenbelt, but this year, as last, it sent my thoughts to those who do similar, and in the blazing sun, not with camping kit en route to a dry car and the way home, but with everything they’ve managed to salvage in escaping from their country, their homes. Checking out for the lost ones is infinitely more stressful when there isn’t a found children’s tent across the field, when the sea has been claiming so many, when anyone around could be your enemy.

We don’t know, we have no idea what it feels like to flee like this. A few of you may have memories of evacuation in 1939; your ability to empathise will be better than those of us who have grown up in peacetime.

Moving house in the last few weeks has reinforced to me again the importance of home, of having a place that is yours, that you know, that is as familiar to you as your own skin; a place of safety, of security. It takes time, even in the best of condition to feel that way in a new place.

A few short miles away across the Channel, a few short miles away in our towns and cities as well as across Europe and the Middle East, we have been made increasingly aware of the plight of so many who are fleeing, who are displaced, who have no country, let alone home.

The People of Israel knew what it was like to have no home, to flee an enemy, to have nowhere to settle. Perhaps it is no surprise then that God called them to welcome the stranger among them, to look after the widows and orphans, to include rather than exclude. Jesus ministered to everyone regardless of their status and their nationality. He included all in his compassion and message of reconciliation with God and each other. He himself had been a refugee as a young child, fleeing the genocide commanded by Herod.

The politics and economics are never simple, but we cannot, I believe, hide behind that in our response to a crisis facing our fellow humans. As the church, the body of Christ we must work together, showing his love and compassion. As St Teresa said “Christ has no body here on earth but yours now” and in showing the love of Christ to others we are showing them too, a home, a home that can never be taken or need to be flown, a home that is the love of God for everyone.

This crisis will fade from the front pages, other news will rise to the surface of our short attention spanned media. Let us commit to never forget, to prayerfully discern what our response should be; working to alleviate the suffering and displacement now, and campaigning for peace and reconciliation, so that home may once more for many become a place of peace and safety.