Materials for Worship at Home on the Third Sunday after Pentecost

Don’t think I came from the past,
or l don’t have education, history or heart.
Don’t look at me as if I am an insect or a rat.
Simply I just have had a very bad fate
which threw me away, very far and late.
I didn’t come to stand in a queue
to have food and clothes,
maybe old, maybe new.

There I had a lovely house
with a garden and lots of friends,
my students, my books, brothers and sisters
and my past.
All of them I lost,
All of them I miss.
Two things l brought –
my children and my coat.
I don’t want a flat or flute,
some meat or fruit.
I need your smile and some human rights.

There, under the jasmine tree
I had buried our stories,
tears, smiles and memories
for fear of them being stolen like our dreams.
There in the balcony of my house
I left a cup of coffee and a conversation with my neighbours.
On the tray there were some of the jasmine flowers
which were contaminated with the smell of gunpowder.
My children’s clothes are still there on the clothesline
waiting for the sun of hope and the wind of love.
The voices of the neighbours’ children are still singing in my ears
when they collect strawberries from my garden.
I ask someone who is still there
to water the flowers which grow on my mother’s grave.
I ask for someone to feed our cat
which is waiting for us in front of the door.

It’s great if your memory takes you everywhere.
However, forgetting sometimes is much better.

Nerys writes: Today is Sanctuary Sunday, the last day of Refugee Week – a time when communities across the world have been celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. When we think of refugees, what probably first comes into our minds these days are images of those who have fled armed conflict: the five million who have left Ukraine in recent months, the two and a half million who left Afghanistan last year, the seven million from Syria, the three million from Palestine and the two million from South Sudan. But in addition, hundreds of thousands of people in many African countries are being displaced by drought and famine brought on by climate change. The figures are overwhelming and it’s easy to forget that they are made up of individuals, each with a story to tell like Staffana, the author of the poem you have just read.

In our main service in church today we’ll be using a new liturgy for times of lament, to help us to recognise our part in the suffering of displaced people across the world, to reflect and pray for those who are in need and to ask God to turn our helplessness to hope-filled action. Our psalm for today, Psalm 77, is a song of lament. Just as Staffana is both comforted and distressed by her memories of her past life, the psalmist also is both troubled and filled with hope as he remembers God’s past presence in the life of his nation at a time when he feels abandoned. And just as the psalmist encourages us to lean on God to inspire, guide, and energize us to be channels of blessing and healing in our world, Jesus’ teaching in our Gospel reading, Luke 9.51-62, challenges us to launch out in new directions of faithfulness to God. Whatever stage of life we’re in, we are asked to walk alongside Jesus, even if that journey compels us to make difficult choices which put us at odds with the secular world. It may call us to walk alongside those who are vilified, despised and rejected by many, to speak up and ensure justice for them and to offer them financial support, welcome or hospitality.

You may wish to pray the Litany for Refugees below and add your own prayers for those known to you who are suffering today.

Lord Jesus, who fled the wrath of Herod, be with those who have to flee the injustice of others.
Lord Jesus, who had nowhere to lay your head, be with those who have no land to call their own.
For the refugees from Ukraine, Syria, Myanmar, Iraq and Afghanistan, Lord, hear my prayer.
For people uprooted in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Colombia. Lord, hear my prayer.
For refugees and displaced persons who have fled from Somalia, Eritrea and Libya, Lord, hear my prayer.
For all who have fled oppression in their own countries and are seeking new lives in new lands, Lord, hear my prayer.
Help me, Lord, to welcome, protect and support all those who are far from home.