This weekend I was at an event of stories, reflection, and hope for refugees.
I wear a badge on my coat that says, “Refugees Welcome”. We began making and selling these at church at the time when the Syrian crisis was coming to national attention, and we’ve sold out and sold out and sold out again. There is one member of the congregation who has taken a new badge at least every other week because hers keeps sparking conversation while out in the city and then she gives it away.
On days when I leave work after 9pm, the only route open out of the building takes me through A&E. The act of walking through an NHS waiting room displaying a badge that says refugees are welcome feels like a political statement. It is a political statement. And a human statement. And an article of faith. And in a hospital as much as in faith communities and at border control and in the street, a statement worth making.
The church that I call home is one that has been called the church of last resort. It is the place place people have felt they can go when there has been no other place left to them. That’s true for lots of reasons, and something I recognise in some of my reasons for being there too. And it is not an unworthy thing to be.
I am from a faith tradition where today marks the beginning of a time in which we are waiting for something.
Waiting for what I call God.
For what some of the people I spent yesterday evening with call Allah, or Yahweh.
For the light to come from the darkness.
In my faith, that waiting comes to an end with a welcome extended to an unusual family, of stigmatised status, in a desperate circumstance. Except that it doesn’t, of course. Because then it all falls apart. Not with nails and a tree or on the steps of the Emperor’s palace. But with that family fleeing terrified into a foreign land from a genocide.
A story older than the Church, and happening right in front of our eyes today.
This is an article of our faith.
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile all nations.