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- Page 5

  • Grass Roots Responses

    The crisis of Syrian refugees has prompted a huge, even enormous, grass roots response - from petitions to rallies to humanitarian aid.  It is a complex situation that I cannot claim to understand, but at the end pof the day these are desperate human beings seeking safety... we cannot just stand by cogitating, theologising, tutting or prevaricating.

    Social media is chock full of grass roots responses all over the UK, and I happened to stumble across a spreadsheet of many here.  I know that it is only time until the media circus moves on to the next tragedy, that there are no quick fixes or easy answers.  Signing petitions is good, donating goods or money is great, praying is helpful - but there are longer term matters to consider. 

    Yesterday I was very challenged by a Baptist minister asking churches if they'd be willing to host up to five refugees whilst they went through the asylum process - housing them and providing their needs for an initial 12 month period.  That's a real "put your money where your mouth is" challenge, and not one I could easily rise to (I'm honest if nothing else).  They also offer some slightly more attainable options to be considered, which I've borrowed to share here...

    1. asking local agencies what they need. L'Auberge Des Migrants, Medicins Du Monde are the two we met, but CalAid also does a great job of communicating facts. They are all on facebook. It is a human urge to need to do something when faced with tragedy, but it is important we do what is helpful and not cause further difficulties. It is also important not to make the Calais camp a tourist site.

    2. collecting useful donations but looking for localised collection and distribution points who are working with local agencies to coordinate deliveries, so as not to overwhelm the small team of volunteers in Calais or cause disruption in the camp.

    3. volunteer some time to go over and help in Calais or other refugee camps you can reach. You can liaise directly with agencies although I would consider organising a rota for Calais with those agencies if people want to offer dates.

    4. volunteer in your local area to help lobby councils and local government and offer hospitality when policies change - https://secure.avaaz.org/en/uk_refugees_volunteers_faq/

    5. donate money to grass roots agencies so they can buy what is needed

    6. remember that the numbers in Calais represent a minuscule percentage of the millions who have fled Syria, so for every pound donated to Calais why not donate at least a pound to groups in Lebanon who have been hosting the vast majority with minimal resources for years. Haddath Baptist Church has a number of excellent projects supporting refugees and you can donate at www.hbcbeirut.org or support World Vision, or find a group in Greece etc.

    (Original list, by Rev Juliet Kilpin)


    I end with a prayer...


    Loving God, as I go to bed tonight,

    Help me not to feel so overwhelmed that I am rendered helpless

    Not to be so naive as to succomb to romantic idealism

    Not to be so cynical that I am deaf to the prophet's cry

    Not to be so sensible that I cannot imagine an alternative

    Not to be so selfish that I close my ears and heart

    Not to be satisfied that I have done enough

    Not to be disappointed with myself for what I cannot do

    Loving God, in this complex situation, show us how we can truly be bringers of your Shalom


  • Infantilised Interpretive Choices?

    Yesterday in a very different web-based context, I came across a recordig of a very long sermon that ought to have interested me because it related to what I will be speaking about this Sunday.  I couldn't get past the first five minutes or so because the exegesis, which was very authoritatively delivered, seemed so incredibly iffy! 

    The speaker boldly asserted that the reference to 'little children' in the gospels meant 'infants' or 'babies', which is inaccurate, at least so far as any Greek I can find suggests.  'Paidon ' can mean child (and clearly does in context) but can also mean a 'slave/servant boy/girl' or even, ahem, a 'boy' whose role was to satisify an older male.  The translator's choice to render this as 'little child/children' is probably defennsible, given the use of the word 'mikron' (small, little, wee) in the wider context, but it sure isn't 'baby' or 'infant'. At no point does the Greek have either the narrator or Jesus saying 'little child/children', it is always either 'child/children' or 'little ones'.  Tsk, translators!!

    Then, today as I've allowed my mind to ruminate, I found myself recalling the Pauline concenr with the need to 'put away childish things'... which is not what the Greek says either.  The word 'nepios' used in 1 Corinthians 13 means... (according to my interlinear anyway) infant.  So, rather than contradicting (or seeming to) Jesus, what Paul is eschewing is an infantilised faith.  Which is something very different indeed.

    So that has given me much to ponder and play around with between now and the final version of whatever I end up writing!  And it all goes to prove that those Greek classes through which I laboured weren't entirely wasted!!