THE 10-MINUTE SERVICE FOR SUNDAY 27 January 2013
Good morning Breege and good morning to all our listeners. This has been quite a week, beginning with the Inauguration of President Obama on Martin Luther King Day, last Monday, and leading up to today, 27th January, which is both homelessness Sunday and Holocaust Memorial Day 2013, the theme of which this year is ‘Communities Together: Build a Bridge.’ It is the day on which we are asked to remember and stand by those who are homeless and also those who were made homeless when their communities were destroyed in the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur in which 170 million people were killed. My son-in-law is a Bosnian refugee and I have been to Bosnia and have seen the devastation and seen the bridge, the famous Mostar Bridge, which was destroyed in the war but is now restored. Thus today the words of Paul Lowe come back to haunt us:‘He who builds a bridge will join two worlds but he who pulls it down will lose them both’
Jesus spent his life building bridges between rich and poor, between Jew and Gentile, between women and men. He began his life in the poverty of a stable, and as we read in Matthew chapter 2 and verse 16 when he was born he became homeless immediately becoming a refugee, having to flee into Egypt to escape the holocaust of King Herod, who killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old and under. Later in life, as we read in Luke chapter 9 and verse 58 Jesus famously said: ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests but the Son of man has nowhere to to lay his head.’ Later in Matthew’s Gospel he described how the people of all the nations would be judged and that includes each one of us listening today. Jesus said: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, an immigrant, an asylum seeker, and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to me.’ And, of course, the good people said: ‘But when did we see all this happen to you?’ and Jesus replied: ‘In as much as you did it to the homeless and the refugee, you did it to me.’
When I look into the eyes of my grandchildren who are a quarter English, a quarter Scottish and half Bosnian I think of the rebuilding of Mostar Bridge. I think of Jesus who gave his own life as a bridge, quite literally between heaven and hell, between war and peace, between Jew and Gentile, between Christian and Muslim, between Protestant and Catholic, between rich and poor, between Ireland and Northern Ireland, between England and Scotland, between the Highlands and the Lowlands, between all that diminishes our common humanity and especially between the poverty of homelessness and the greed of those like me who sit at ease in Zion. And I think of the words of John Donne who in 1583 at the age of eleven studied at my old college in Oxford and wrote these famous words: ‘No man is an island,Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thine own Or of thine friend's were. Each man's death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.
Like Jesus, like John Donne, we are involved in mankind, involved with the homeless, involved with the refugee, involved with Europe and with the United States of America, involved with the cry of a man called Martin Luther King who, like Moses, had a dream and cried out: ‘Let my people go’.
So let us pray:
Loving God help us, each one of us, to have a dream, for Oban and for Argyll, for Scotland and for Ireland, for England and for Wales, for Europe and for Africa, for India and for China, for the Pacific and for America-north and south, for the whole of Asia – for all humanity – that the hungry may be fed, the naked clothed, the homeless housed, the refugee made welcome, that broken bridges may be restored – that the love of Jesus, whose broken body has become the bridge – a bridge of love restoring all humankind may restore us also. But you already know all this O God and we ask that we may know it too.
‘I have a dream’, a man once said,
‘where all is perfect peace;
where men and women, black and white,
stand hand in hand, and all unite
in freedom and in love
in freedom and in love.’
So dream the dreams and sing the songs,
but never be content;
for thoughts and words don’t ease the pain:
unless there’s action, all is vain;
faith proves itself in deeds
faith proves itself in deeds.
Lord, give us vision, make us strong,
help us to do your will;
don’t let us rest until we see
your love throughout humanity
uniting us in peace
uniting us in peace.
Words Pamela J Pettitt
Tune ‘Repton’ Charles Hubert Hastings Parry
Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the silent earth to you
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.