Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Much more than just a letter from a friend - A call for Justice, Peace, Reconciliation and hospitality in our world today


Blog, Church, whosover reads this.

This is personal, it's global, it's rambling, it's my intial thoughts  - cutting right to the heart of what it means to be a Christian in our world today. To have it written by someone who I've been privileged to shake hands with and to be invited into their home on various occasions - I know his heart - and this letter is back up by his own actions in his home diocese as well as his work for the wider communion, africa and also the world.

Zambia META 2016 Team meeting Archbishop Albert Chama at his home in Kitwe 

The church - in our parish, in Ireland, in Europe needs to hear this and also needs to look at the implications for Justice, Peace and the integrity of creation you can read the letter in full without my thoughts on it on the Archbishop of Canterbury's blog.


Red & Emphasis mine 
Your Excellency,
I am writing at the request of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, as you prepare for the important Global Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, which will be held next week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The fact that the church is doing what the church should be doing at this time - ie showing leadership, showing that we have something to say in the public square is fantastic. The fact that the Anglican church is having its voice heard at this important meeting is great - we do have something to say! 
The global tragedy of the forced displacement of millions of people is now a crisis that calls us to work together in new and creative ways in response to such suffering and disruption. The trauma experienced by the world’s 60 million refugees speaks to our common humanity, and pleads with us to take action as we reach out to respond to their suffering.  However, people are not only fleeing conflict and violence, but also moving around the world to escape from poverty or the effects of climate change. People search to find places where they can work and feed their families, to find better opportunities or freedom to live in peace and safety, whoever they are.  All this demands a much more intentional and robust collective response in which the churches and other faith communities are more than ready to take their place.
This is a huge claim and I wonder if we in Ireland are?, if we in this parish are? if the church of Ireland is? - maybe we are, but I wonder are we? how do we get ready? is there things that we need to clear out of the way of our readiness? how can we support those who are on the front lines of those migrants and refugees? 
In the United Kingdom, in my own country Zambia, and in many of the 164 countries around the world in which the Anglican Communion is present, the churches, together with other local religious communities, are working with their United Nations and civil society partners and with governments to provide sanctuary and protection to those fleeing conflict and poverty.
There a huge pile of attitudes which need challenged - how can we properly work together with governments to help? - is the church called at this time to step up, to speak out for the marginalised and the vulnerable in this society? what does that look like? - do we not have enough stuff to worry about in our own parishes with our own people? do we not have homeless in our own cities to worry about? what does it mean to belong to a world wide family? 
In addition, as our church communities reach out in loving service to those who have lost everything and who often arrive profoundly traumatized, bearing both physical and psychological scars from their experiences, we know that these people, whom the world labels as refugees, asylum seekers or migrants are, like all the people of the earth, treasured human beings made in the image of God. They deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people on the move, but we know that each of them is not only another number in a huge statistic but also an individual who brings a unique story of displacement, a unique potential to flourish and a unique ability to contribute to the common good.
Ouch! - this has huge implications - what about those people on our doorsteps - in our direct provision centres?, those who have made it to the front doors of our borders. Can we agree with Archbishop Albert Chama in this paragraph and if we do - what are the implications for our service, for our witness, for us in our priorities of ministry. 
Whilst responding to this massive movement of people is a humanitarian challenge for us all, we know that there are still governments around the world that are reluctant to accord such people any national legal protection or to recognise their status.  This only serves to exacerbate their situation, placing them at the mercy of human traffickers, smugglers and others who would exploit their predicament for profit.  The churches of the Anglican Communion are working to assist the dialogue with such governments and to advocate for stronger legal protection for these most vulnerable people.  We aim to contribute where possible to a durable solution that is based on appreciation of the dignity of the individual and respect for human rights.
It has been a real encouragement to see that in effect the church of Ireland is doing things - which is great - https://www.ireland.anglican.org/news/6094/the-refugee-crisis-our-response but I wonder has this filtered down to parish level - to ask in our parishes how and what can we do to help petition governments to do more, to find out what practical solutions need done. This surely is the big social and political issue of our day and we cannot be found wanting. 
As I reflect on the reality around the world that the Anglican Communion is consistently at the forefront of humanitarian response, conflict prevention, above all currently in the Great Lakes of Africa and in South Sudan, and in rebuilding communities and lives, I recall the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury at the beginning of 2016:
"Standing by a mass grave that I had just consecrated for the bodies of clergy and lay leaders of Bor Cathedral, last January, and then hearing the Archbishop of the Sudan, whose home town it was, call for reconciliation, and to know that he is working with us on that now, was one of the most powerful moments of my life."
In today’s world hospitality, reconciliation and love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism.
I just love this - Amen, Amen, Amen - but we need to been those who display this - It is all too easy to look at the news headlines and say woe is the day we live in - we need to choose - hospitality, reconciliation and love. 
So, as you and your staff prepare for these very important meetings, we express our warmest appreciation of our colleagues at the UNHCR and other UN partners. We commend to you our Anglican Communion representatives, The Right Reverend David Hamid and Canon Andrew Khoo – who will bring to the Summit the experience and the witness of the churches responding to the crisis in Europe and in South East Asia.
We also assure you that you are daily in our prayers in this work that we share,
The Most Revd Archbishop Albert Chama

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