The Together@10 service on 31 July was led by the MUC Connections group with a focus on Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
The service was inspired by Refugee Week (19-25 June 2022) which had as its theme: We’re happy you’re safe. We’re happy you’re free. We’re happy you’re here.
The guest speaker was Rev Rod Horsfield who spoke of the amazing project that sprang from one person at Pilgim Uniting Church in Launceston to commemorate the sinking of the SIEVX. This eventually led to the installation of 353 poles on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.
Each pole represents a man, woman or child who perished.
Rod concluded his presentation as follows:
What does this say to us 21 years after this tragic event? It is important we don’t forget. What we remember and what we chose to forget or ignore tells us a lot about what we live from and for, and informs how we see the world and what we value. As Christians, we cannot forget those who are strangers and refugees and marginalsed in any way, and live the faith and ethics of Jesus. “For as much as you have done it to one of the least of these… you did it to me”. (Matthew 25:40) We cannot ignore or choose to forget the people of the SIEVX any more than we can ignore the plight of millions of displaced people in the world today or the few who risk their lives to seek refuge in Australia as well as those whose desperation puts them on flimsy boats for a dangerous voyage.
It speaks of the power of one – that one person with a passion for justice can make a difference. It shows me that imagination is not dead in our society:; that in our sense of hospitality is still alive; that our passion for justice is still keen; and that we will not allow fear and prejudice to be our responses to the complexities of the contemporary world. And all those people who decorated a pole and came to Canberra to stand with it demonstrate that love is greater than fear.
The service was led by Sharon Kouryialis and all participants members of Connections.
The prayers of confession were led by Faye Tse and Anne McCulloch.
The Prayers of the People were led by Alison Smith.
The readings – were read by Sadegh Rooeintan in Farsi while the English words were projected on the screen.
33-34 “When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don’t take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God.
Matthew 5: 43-48
Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[ and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
During the service we had the opportunity to break into groups to explore the theme.
- Interview with Sadegh and Sharon
- Whoever You Are – picture story with Alison
- Quiz with Marion
The songs were led by the band and by Lauris Allen on the piano.
The concluding song was written by Rod!
JESUS WAS A STRANGER
Jesus was a stranger and a refugee,
forced to leave his country, with his family;
sent away from home by government decree,
Jesus was a stranger and a refugee.
Jesus sought asylum in a far country;
From a murd’rous tyrant he was forced to flee;
Wandering down to Egypt, holy family,
looking for a place of hospitality.
I see you, Lord Jesus, in this homeless band;
Yours the eyes of migrants forced to flee their land;
You’re the mother grieving in the desert sand;
Yours the supplication in her outstretched hand.
Give to me the grace, God, not to turn away,
Nor to turn a blind eye, when I bow to pray;
Open up our hearts, Lord, free your church to say,
You are welcome stranger, join us in God’s name.
© Rodney Horsfield 2005
Tune: Au Clare de la Lune ( TiS 236)