Sunday, 6 September 2015

Sermon on Trinity 14 2015

Sermon                     St Aug’s                          6th Sept 2015

I suppose that the whole thing that kicked it all off was one picture, the photo of three-year-old Aylan, or Alan, washed up on a beach in Turkey after drowning, with his brother and mother in the Mediterranean. Some having been talking about this for months!
Suddenly, the world has wakened up to the fact that we have a massive refugee crisis, as big, if not bigger than that at the end of World War 11.

You will note that I use the word “refugee”, and not migrant or scum or freeloader or swarm, but refugee, in the same way as Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus were when they fled to Egypt from King Herod.
I have come across a number of things written this week, some of which has angered me, some of which has caused me to shed tears, but one poem, written by a Somali refugee, a young woman, moved me to tears. Syrians don’t have time to write poetry at the moment, and I decided to use this instead today and share it with you.

"Home" Somali poet Warsan Shire
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i've become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.

To give balance, a “friend” of mine and some of you know who, wrote this in social media:

I think that all of us ex-servicemen should collect our little pensions together and buy up the old HMS Hermes. Put our families aboard and sail her over to Syria, where there is a hell of a lot more room and no immigrants to bother us. Use that land to build a new England because it seems that this so-called government wants to give all our hard-earned money and health organisation away to everyone except our own people. Want to join me?

I felt tempted to offer him his fare.

Firstly, it’s not an “either or”. The poor and marginalised already in this great country of ours need to be looked after and austerity is not working and is making them poorer by the day.
Then we come to the stranger, the refugee!
The Old Testament is full of the importance of welcoming the stranger. The Hebrew Bible remembers well the exodus of a whole nation fleeing Egypt on a journey to a Promised Land. The Lord told the people of Israel that they were never to forget that they were once in the same predicament. Read again the first reading today from Proverbs. It talks of sharing our bread with the poor, and the stranger at the gate.
In the Epistle today, James has some straight talking.. about loving your neighbour and tending to their needs. We need to print that out and put it on our noticeboard!
The Gospels are full of the same sort of material. We know all about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and all the rest, because Matthew 25 tells us to. What would Jesus do? What would Jesus say? What is Jesus saying? The Syrophonician woman today, treated as scum, is granted the crumbs from the table, and more than crumbs! The disciples in Acts sold their possessions to have a common fund to help the poor and share with those in need.
And yet in today’s papers (Telegraph) I caught a glimpse of governments intention to take 15.000, and start bombing Syria in four weeks time. Not in my name!!
There is only one Christian response to this refugee crisis, and that is to take as many as possible. Anyone who thinks differently should go back home and read their Bible.
Before the General Election, our Prime Minister told us that we were a Christian nation. I wondered.

However, if we do not meet our obligations, and refuse to take our fair share of human beings, yes, human beings, then I’m afraid that we can no longer pretend to be a Christian country, but one of greed and self-interest.