Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Remembrance Reflection

I am sure, like me, you have been staggered by the sight of thousands of refugees streaming from Syria to neighbouring countries where they believe they can find some security for the future.  Some of these countries are small and not best able to respond to need on such a large scale.  As often happens, however, at times of great crisis the best in humanity can emerge to bring hope.

I attended a meeting recently organised by Tearfund which was addressed by one of its workers just recently returned from the Middle East.  She had been in various countries where Syrians had sought refuge, one of which was Lebanon.  In one town she came across a Syrian family - mother, father and four children - who were living in a derelict building.  They had had a fairly good standard of living in their own country but were now having to live day to day.  Circumstances were made all the more difficult by the attitude of the local Mayor.  He had made a statement to the effect that no Syrian refugees should be given any help.  Apparently, there have been strained relationships between Lebanese and Syrians in the past.

A small Christian congregation was not prepared to accept this, however, and were providing the family with food, clothes and any other items they may need.  This is all the more impressive in that the family are Muslims.    

In this season of Remembrance when we are conscious of the things which divide humanity and cause hostility we need stories like this which show how barriers can be broken down by compassion.  This was part of Jesus’ ministry as he  responded to those in need without regard for their nationality or religious background.  He rejoiced to see the greatest example of faith in a Roman soldier; he responded to the pleas of a pagan woman for the healing of her daughter; he used the character of a Samaritan, always suspect in the eyes of a Jew, to teach responsibility for anyone bruised and battered by life’s road.  

Jesus has warned us that there would always be ‘wars and rumours of wars’ but he also proclaimed the growth of His Kingdom throughout the earth and that that would be strengthened as we learn to love our God and our neighbour in need.