Friday, 7 August 2015

Calais, Christianity, Migrants, Refugees and Selfishness - A Sermon.

I am so angry, have been for months, about the way our media are reporting the situation for refugees and migrants in Calais and NOT reporting all the deaths of thousands of people just trying to find somewhere safe to live.

They are dieing
They are dieing at home.
They are dieing trying to escape
They are dieing on their journey
They are dieing

And we are standing by and watching
Or maybe worse, we are standing by and ignoring
And then to add insult to injury we are standing by and judging
How dare we!!!

Can you imagine a life so hard or dangerous that you would leave everything you have and everyone you love and spend the only money you have to try to travel to find somewhere, anywhere, safer?
I guarantee you can't imagine it.  

These are people, like you and like me, but born into a place and a time where they are the poorest and most down trodden people on the planet and yet many think they should just stay where they are and put up with it.

what arrogance
what selfishness
what ignorance

I am angry (I know, you never guessed that did you?)
And I have started to leak this anger to anyone who dares to mention the "problems at Calais" or the "awful people who want to come and take our resources".  I've ranted at my family and friends, I've shouted at the TV and Radio and I've written to my MP, for all the good it does me.  I've shared links all over facebook and annoyed "friends", in fact I've even been de-friended by some who find my views just too offensive, gutted.

What is wrong with our society that we think we deserve the nice lives we have and no one else deserves a piece of it?  There by the Grace of God we go.  Literally.  Those of us living in the UK and the rest of the Western World have done nothing which entitles us to our safe and happy lives; we were just born in the right place at the right time.

Think about that for a moment.
We could be them!

We could be living in a war zone
Or in an area stricken by poverty
Or in a place ruled by cruel dictators
Or in a country with greedy leaders who take endless back handers

And how would we change things?
How do we expect these ordinary people to change things for themselves?
We can't even stop our own democratically elected Government to stop taking from the poor and giving to the rich; what hope do these oppressed people have?
No hope.
And so they leave.
And we judge.
Shame on us.

We have wealth.
The majority of us in the Western World have wealth.
And don't tell me you don't because if you drive a car and watch a TV and have a choice of clothes and throw food away because it's gone past it's best before date and complain about the weather then you have wealth.  
In the worldwide economy you have wealth.
We have wealth.

These people, they have nothing.
They have no money
No freedom
No options
No hope

This is their best option.
To come across the world in the most awful conditions
To risk everything
To camp out in Calais
To pray that someone will give them a chance
They don't ask for money
They just want a chance
A chance to feed themselves
A chance to be safe
A chance to work
Any work at all

This photo was taken by Rev Giles Fraser earlier this week when he took a ferry to Calais to visit the migrant camp and worship in their church.

Ethiopian Church in Calais Refugee Camp taken by Rev Giles Fraser
I cried when he announced that he was going to do this and I prayed through the day for him and all the people he would meet that they would know that there are some of us in this arrogant and selfish country who care.   That there are some of us who are praying for them and trying to get our Government to help them.   And there are some who have taken the Daily Fail's £1 ferry offer and used it to go and take food and clothes and prayers to those who the Daily Fail denigrates - I just love that!

And then this morning the media and twitter were alive with condemnation that BBC Songs of Praise is filming at the camp in Calais.  Everyone seems so angry to the BBC is funding this trip and that it's a waste of tax payers money.

Well I am thrilled that the BBC are allowing and enabling this trip and I think they should be fighting back with one big argument - the BBC has a remit to inform and educate - think yourselves informed and educated.

Not only are they going to inform the public about what it is really like to be living in this camp and putting your lives at risk trying to climb onto trains and lorries; but they are going to be showing how despite all the hardship these people keep faith that all will be OK with God's help.

But we have a part to play to make this happen.
God's will needs human action.

The Gospel of Matthew has many greats, but one in particular is on my heart.

The great commandment
Love your neighbour (Matthew 22)
That's the commandment
Love your neighbour
And no, this does not just mean loving your neighbour in the house next door!  It means loving everyone in the world who is a neighbour rather than part of your family.

It means:
- caring for anyone in need
- fighting for justice for the oppressed
- feeding the hungry and the poor
- giving what we have to help others
- healing those in pain
- praying for those in strife

We are required as disciples of Christ to do this.
So what can we do today, each of us, to love our neighbours in this camp?
I'll be praying and I'm blogging and I'll be sending this to my MP
I wish I could do more but my health doesn't allow.

What will you do?
Will you just keep standing in judgement?
Will you keep pretending it's not really happening?
Or will you love your neighbour?


PS I never preached this, but it felt like a sermon so I thought I'd call it that.