As I was working on this sermon this week, I could not help but think of the refugee crisis and the millions of people who are desperately seeking asylum and a place to live without fear for their lives. According to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in a report at the end of 2014, “the number fleeing war and persecution hasn’t been greater since World War II . . . More than 60 million people have been displaced by conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere, and the violence is expected to drive hundreds of thousands more to seek asylum this year and next."1 In a sermon about having open hands and open hearts, about receiving and releasing each other with love as we all live and move and have our being in God, these refugees, who are leaving a beloved place because of persecution and arriving at strange places in hope of redemption, deserve our attention. After all, the infant Jesus fled with Joseph and Mary from Bethlehem to Egypt due to persecution from Herod, who was going to find and kill him (Mt 2:13-18). How we treat those who are in desperate need matters, as Jesus made clear in his parable of the sheep and the goats. Just because we are in the United States and are not immediately affected by an influx of refugees does not mean we should not attend to them. Not only should we care because our faith requires us to care (“whatever you do to the least of these you do to me”), we should care because this crisis is an opportunity to show what Christianity is really about: extending the love of God outside of the doors of the church and into the world, and inviting those outside the doors of the church to come in and be loved.
FULL SERMON HERE
PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW, which is a beautiful testimony of what the God of Jesus Christ can do with we poor souls who often feel helpless in the face of violence and suffering. Please listen to Miriam's song, especially, which begins at 4:40. You will be blessed.