Today is Sanctuary Sunday, the close of Refugee Week.
An old Celtic proverb reads: ‘It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.’ Human warmth, welcome and friendship are all forms of sanctuary, something we can all work to offer to those we encounter.
The Bible has much to say about welcoming the stranger and lost:
- I was a stranger and you welcomed me… Matthew 25.35
- Have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them. Exodus 25:8
- And the Word became flesh and lived among us. John 1:14
- I am standing at the door, knocking; if you … open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. Revelation 3:20
Inderjit Bhogal has written the following prayer:
Migrant God, free from borders,
your presence spans all creation.
You take sanctuary in us,
in you is our eternal sanctuary.
We behold you in community
with those uprooted from their homes
by war, poverty, persecution and extreme weather,
especially those who make their way
to these shores on small boats.
Be the shelter of their lives.
Bless their courage and resilience
in seeking freedom and sanctuary.
Bring us to build cultures of welcome,
hospitality and sanctuary for all;
Community where there is conflict;
Compassion where there is cruelty;
Humanity where there is hatred;
Hospitality where there is hostility;
And so, to practice and proclaim hope.
In the Name of Christ.
There is an old reflection of hospitality from the Irish Gaelic Rune of Hospitality, the Carmen Gadelica:
We saw a stranger yesterday.
We put food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
Music in the listening place,
And with the sacred Name of the triune God,
He blessed us and our house,
Our cattle and our dear ones,
As the Lark says in her song,
Often, often, often goes the Christ,
In the stranger’s guise.
May God allow us to listen to the Lark’s song!
(Find out more at https://churchofsanctuary.org)