Restoring Hope – 16 June, 2013
As you can see from the front of our Bulletin and the accompanying insert today that this week is Refugee Week, from 16th June to 22nd June. I know that the issue of ‘refugees’ and ‘asylum seekers’ is a hot topic for many Australians at the moment. The Bible certainly has much to say about the treatment of strangers and foreigners and we’ll discuss some of that today in our worship service.. As Christians and followers of Jesus Christ, it is incumbent on us to apply the teachings of Jesus to our lives. One of Jesus greatest sermons from the Gospel of Matthew is found in chapters 5,6 and 7. Matthew 5:6 say, “blessed are those who are hungry and thirst for justice”. As a church, the Uniting Church in Australia has tried to speak into this complicated and contentious issue. The Journey newspaper often has articles and reports about how congregations are ministering to people is these situations. The Uniting Church Assembly website has many updates and resources to assist us in dealing with these issues of social justice. (www.assemblyuca.org.au)
Today I am basing my Theme on the passages from our lectionary readings (Luke 7:36-8:3; 1 Kings 21:1-21a; Psalm 5:1-8; Galatians 2:15-21) as they lead us into Refugee Week. “Jesus comes among hungry, hurting humanity. Some of our hungers are self-evident and undeniable; some of our hungers are concealed from ourselves and from the world by various means. Jesus ministers to all of humanity. He ministers to some in our need, to others in denial of our need, but to all, each according to our need. To some he offers gracious affirmation; to others he offers truthful rebuke, to all, each according to our need.” (William H Willimon – Blessed are the Hungry, 2013.p43)
In the story that Luke tells in Luke 7:36-8:3 we find Jess visiting the home of Simon the Pharisee. During the meal Jesus is confronted by a repentant woman of the city. Jesus looks upon the woman in a way that is remarkably different from the way that Simon sees her. Today I’d like to suggest that we need to let Jesus “confront” those attitudes and behaviours that we have, that are both evident, and those that are hidden. As we welcome Jesus into ‘our home’, into ‘our heart’, we will find ourselves fulfilling the greatest commandment that Jesus demonstrated in his own life:- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as you live yourself. (Matt22:34-40, Mark 12:28-30; Luke 10:25-28 and basically the whole of John’s gospel)
So as we apply the Gospel to our lives today, may we find our living this week to be a little different or even radically different from the way we lived last week. You will find some practical ways to respond to some of the issues related to refugees and asylum seekers on the back page of today’s insert. You may want to write a letter to a politician or an asylum seeker in a detention centre, or you may want to walk next Saturday in the “Walk together rally” at the Kurrawa Surf Club to show your concern for this issue, or you may want to get to know some recent refugees who are trying to begin a new life here on the Gold Coast. Whatever it is that you do, may it be as a result of Jesus feeding your hunger for justice….so that you are “Blessed”.
Get informed and get involved in the kinds of things that bring God’s Kingdom to earth.
May God Restore Hope in your spirit….this week….Rev. Brad Foote