Refugees need a home. What can we do?

03 November 2016

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Preacher | Rev Jeremy Groombridge

Refugees need a home. What can we do?

Refugees need a home. What can we do?


I’ve been thinking a lot recently about pastoral care, and what it is that motivates Christians to care.  At one level the answer is simple - we love, because God in Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19).  So pastoral ministry is a witness to God’s faithful loving-kindness.  As a pastor, I am driven by Jesus’ imperative to “tend” the flock (John 21:15-17) and I find I’m never ceasing to learn what that entails.  I see God’s love fleshed out in Jesus Christ, whose coming as God with Us (Emmanuel) we will soon be celebrating as we move into the Advent season.  And as my relationship with my loving God deepens and matures, so it is reflected in a caring commitment to the well-being of others. 


“The glory of God is the human person fully alive” wrote Irenaeus of Lyons in the second century. The reality of pastoral care is that it is undertaken with ordinary human beings, and in a world that is full of messiness, frustration and fragility. We often observe that “all human life is represented here” - and in my experience, this certainly seems to be the case in Sanderstead. Ours is a place of human struggle as well as joy; of disappointment and tragedy as well as success and prosperity. It has been truly encouraging to witness how folk at All Saints make a real effort to connect to each other and people in the local community, through initiatives like Coffee Pot, Family Fun, Summer in Sanderstead. There is lots of evidence that our people are willing to “think outside the box” when developing ways to make new connections. 


But actually, at the moment, some aspects of human life are perhaps under-represented in our community. We are concerned, for example, for refugees and those who have no home to live in and we make generous contributions to the work of organisations such as the Croydon Refugee Centre and Croydon Churches Floating Shelter. I was speaking recently to a curate colleague in on of the Purley churches and he described how he and his wife have brought two refugees into their home to live with them. Their account of suffering in making the journey on foot from their homeland in Syria to the Calais “Jungle” moved him to tears. But it set me wondering where that aspect of human life is represented in our local community of Sanderstead. And whether there is perhaps something more we ought to be considering in our own church. For example, after Martin and Emma have moved into the new rectory, the old building will stand vacant for a period before decisions are made about the future of that plot. With the Bishop’s permission and support, might there be an opportunity for the Christian community to show pastoral compassion to those without a home or even a state to call their own?

    

As a write this, all sorts of possibilities and ideas are flowing through my mind. I am under no delusion about the potential problems, complications and risks. But whether we like or not, and irrespective of how comfortable or otherwise we may feel, we are presented with a humanitarian challenge - both as a nation and a Christian community - and the challenge will not go away. I’d be interested to know what you think about this - do you share my view that an opportunity may be opening up to put our preaching into practice? And if so, are you prepared to roll your sleeves up? 

Responses, please, as soon as possible, to my email address: jeremy@sanderstead-parish.org.uk

This sermon appears in the All Saints November newsletter

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