Good News Line April 2015

For those in peril on the sea

A boat capsizes in the Mediterranean Sea. Over 800 perish: just 28 refugees rescued. Finally the E. U. takes notice. Untold thousands died in 2014. Those/these desperate people were escaping war zones in northern and western Africa and, of course, the strife torn Middle East, particularly Iraq and Syria. 12 months ago, fearful of the increasing numbers of asylum   seekers reaching E.U. soil, rescue patrols (Mare Nostrum) were scaled down. Reason being? The fear of drowning would deter would be migrants. Beyond belief! Already this year thousands have died: people, whole families like you and me. Their “crime”risking their lives having already lost everything: yes, literally every thing else!

As I compose this message yet another grossly overcrowded, unseaworthy boat capsizes and sinks. More perish. What can we do? What should we do?

The GOOD NEWS is that there is someone and somewhere where we can go to find the answers. That somewhere is the Bible and that someone is Jesus, God's perfect son. Jesus spoke often about how we should live and how we should relate to others. For me, personally, Jesus' most challenging words are recorded by the Gospel writer Matthew. There in Chapter 25, Jesus speaking to his disciples on the Mount of Olives, says from verse 31: “When the Son of Man (Jesus) comes in his glory-everyone, all nations will be gathered before him and he will separate them as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.”.......To the sheep Jesus says (v35): “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat: thirsty – drink; a stranger and you invited me in; I was sick and you looked after me; I needed clothes and you gave me clothes and I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him: “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you etc etc?” (verse 37/38). Verse 40  The King will reply: “I tell you the truth whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did it for me.” He The King then turns his attention to the goats on his left and says: “Depart from me etc. et” You can read the rest from  verse 41 to 46. It makes uncomfortable reading especially in light of what has been going on and continues to unfold in the very areas that we love to visit on our holidays.

Since I began composing this message the EU called an urgent summit of all its national leaders to discuss this crisis. The outcome: something must be done. Our Prime Minister has been one of the first to respond: “We will send HMS Bulwark and two smaller vessels to rescue those in peril on the sea.” However, David Cameron when making this announcement also said, “those rescued by RN ships will not be offered safe refuge within the UK.” I'm sure I'm not alone by being disturbed by what he said. Many of us can think and, if Christians, pray through and into this ongoing crisis. It grew swiftly from 2003 with little done since to ameliorate the situation. The Arab Spring in 2011 has morphed into the Mediterranean Winter of 2015. It has now reached the level that has forced nations to take notice.

The Very Good News is that it is nothing new: we have been here before and the solution is available. In part it is made clear in those words of Jesus spoken on the Mount of Olives nearly 2000 years ago. The question is: Will we heed them? As individuals we might feel impotent. However, there are things we can do. Be thankful for what we have and treat our neighbours, and that includes asylum seekers, (does it not?) as we would have others treat us.

Finally, as a political anorak, please make sure you vote and, if you read this after the polls close, do enjoy the aftermath. Whatever the result! Meanwhile do try to have a peaceful and blessed day. If there is anything expressed here that gives you concern or you would like to have help to understand do please consult a church leader or myself.

Thank you for calling

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