Watch this space…
Watch this space…
How can I prepare for Lent?
What is a practice that you could do for the next week that might shape our understanding of being a refugee or caring for refugees?
Is there a particular resource that you could share, or explore in your own networks?
Is there more that you would like to explore here?
For further reading this week if you would like; https://www.unitingjustice.org.au/refugees-and-asylum-seekers
A great blog to be informed about individual stories and groups from around the world: https://www.refugeesinternational.org/blog
“It is important to step back from the prevailing public debate and draw guidance from our identity as Christians.”
Shelter From the Storm – A Uniting Church in Australia statement on asylum seeker and refugee policy – 2015
A women named Mary and a man named Joseph, went looking for safety, refuge and a place to birth their son, Jesus into the world. It so happens the core of our ‘Christian’ Identity starts with the One who comes into a family seeking refuge and safety. When we read this weeks reading, which ends ‘blessed be the One who comes in the name of our God’ we might step out of the public debate, and despair and wonder how we can love and care for those who seek safety and refuge in our society and in the world.
This week, let us be aware of the refugee, search what it means to ‘queue’ for UN status, the distance one might walk to find safety, and the journeys faced by those seeking refuge. We might pray safety for those journeys, for an end to war, famine, and climate change, and for the hearts of those who maintain policies of harsh and inhumane treatment.
God of Abraham. Sarah and Hagar,
God of travellers, migrants and refugees.
Thank you for the beauty and uniqueness of this southern land which we share.
Grant your protection and grace to all who shelter here.
Forgive the racism and destruction that have been part of our history,
and our disregard for the pain and oppression within the Australian community today.
Help us shed our provincial expectations. Take away our cultural tunnel vision.
Open our hearts to be caring neighbours to each other.
Direct our lives to just and peaceful action.
God of a thousand faces, help us also to acknowledge you are worshipped in many
languages, in different songs and rhythms of life from our own.
May we respect these religious insights in each other and
assist each faithful expression of you.
We rejoice in you, God, in whose image we are brothers and sisters.
and by whose example in Jesus Christ we know the breadth and depth
of your universal love. Amen
Mission Prayer Handbook 1991, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, p. 7
This week we open the reading from Luke 13:31-35, The Gospel Reading from Lent 2 in our Lectionary.
Ruth Anne Reese states that; ‘healing and deliverance are central aspects of Jesus’ message and daily work (citing Luke 4:33; 8:27-39; 4:41; 9:1; 10:17; 12:20) She asks preachers to think about the need for healing and deliverance within the church as well as those who are not yet part of God’s people. She goes on to suggest during this season of Lent, as we contemplate the ministry and passion of Jesus, we must also remember that rejection of his ministry comes with consequences of our own choosing. Jesus’ longing is to have compassion, but his longing must be met by our own longing for salvation, deliverance, and healing.’ ( https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2770 )
When we consider this reading alongside this week’s topic of Refugees; we might consider how the aspects healing and deliverance are reflected in the media and dialogue around those seeking refuge within Australia, it’s borders, it’s detention facilities and within homes all over our country waiting for VISA’s and documentation. We might consider how we relate to those who seek refuge in light of the questions asked in Matthew 25:44-45: Then they will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘ Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
There is no one answer to this multifaceted dilemma. But there are petitions we could sign, there are groups that we could join, there are letters we could send to our local and federal politicians, and when we consider throwing furniture and clothing and house wares out, we could take them to a local drop off point for recently placed families in our communities.
Blessings as you continue your Lent.
Throughout Lent we will upload prayers, and reflections and further readings according to our lectionary and reflecting on the topics of Refugees, Indigenous Justice, Care for Creation, Women’s Justice, Culture and Diversity & The Holy Days. Check in each week for an update;
Blessed are you, God of all creation. You are eternal, we are mortal, formed from the dust of the earth. On this Ash Wednesday we remember you sign upon us, as a sign of repentance and returning to you. Breath into us again the breath of life. Blessed be God forever.
Taken from Uniting In Worship II
Disciples watch, they remain alert, attentive, watching symbolic acts as well as listening for instructive words; watching the actions that give the clue to how reality is being reorganised around Jesus. (Rowan Williams, 2016)
As we re-orient, and re-organise ourselves, toward and around Christ Jesus, we will pray, reflect and discern justice, through the exploration of revised common lectionary readings, and topics around justice. Each week we have a reading and a topic to be introduced to and share about.
Lent is a time of turning ones feet toward the cross, and being discipled further into Christ. In your praying, and reading and stretching I hope that you are confronted, drawn near, and oriented well for the death and resurrection, but that you might see signs of Christ in our humanity and creation on the way.
As stated, each week we will open to a new topic and a new reading.
Each of the topics selected are those which are already popular topics within our social spheres. It would be good if you brought some of your own questions to the table, seeking to explore socially and biblically our experiences and expectations.
Vulnerability is definitely at play here, so give yourself some breathing space if you need it. No one person has all the answers, and no one reading will help inform fully, so the only way that this will work is if we seek conversation rather than answers.
Our reading as introduction is the Gospel reading in our Ash Wednesday service readings. Matthew’s Jesus says; “beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (NRSV)
Before starting Lent, what are the things that we might want to keep in check before each topic/reading, how might we share our experiences and knowledge respectfully?
How can I prepare for Lent?
Matthew 6:1-6, 16:21
What is your understanding of Ash Wednesday? Lent?
Do you have a practice that you would usually do or have done in the past around Lent?
Is there a particular topic that you are excited by? and why?
Is there something that you would rather cover instead?
For further reading this week if you would like;
there is a book about ‘being Disciples: essentials of the Christian life’ by Rowan Williams.
A great podcast about ‘lent’ : Nomad Podcast 1 March 2017 – Brian Draper – Lent and the Transforming Power of Stillness