PRESCRIPT: As part of our involvement in Refugee Week, on the evening of the 19th June 2014, Mountview Uniting Church, the congregation where I am presently the Minister in placement, hosted a Service of Lament with Asylum Seekers, to lament the appalling position taken both of Australia’s major political parties (supported by widespread public opinion) toward those who come to this country seeking safety and dignity. This is the second such service it has been my privilege to participate in, the first having been held last year at Williamstown (Elektra Street) Uniting Church; and at this most recent service I was accorded the signal honour of preaching. I only hope my words lived up to the occasion.
It being the age of Google, it will come as no surprise to anyone that it only takes a very quick, very superficial online search of the Bible to uncover any number of passages that instruct the people of Israel in how they are to deal with foreigners and treat the non-Jews who live among them. Indeed, my own quick and superficial search uncovered at least 265 passages in which the words “foreigner”, “stranger”, or “alien” are mentioned. And while it is true that some of these passages emphasise the separation of the Hebrews from others, or give voice to ancient enmities, by far the vast majority of these passages exhort the people of Israel to the neighbourly, hospitable and just treatment of the foreigners who live among them. Exodus 22:21 and 23:9; Leviticus 19:10 and 19:34; Numbers 15:26 and 35:15; Deuteronomy 24:14 – and on and on and on. Time and again, the people of Israel are commanded by both the Mosaic Law and by the prophetic tradition to deal justly and compassionately with their neighbours and with the resident aliens living among them. Continue reading “Sermon for Service of Lament with Asylum Seekers (Ruth 2: 3-12)”