Migrants in Hungary near the Serbian border August 2015 (Gemes Sandor SzomSzed)
Refugee Week takes place every year across the world in the week around World Refugee Day: 20 June. In the UK, Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.
Refugee Week started in 1998 as a direct reaction to growing hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers. “Our ultimate aim is to create better understanding between different communities and to encourage successful integration, enabling refugees to live in safety and continue making a valuable contribution.” Find out about Refugee Week here.
The Christian-Judeo traditions are built on the stories of wandering and persecuted peoples – “My father was a homeless Aramaean”, writes one Old Testament author, “who went down to Egypt and lived there with a small band of people…” (Deuteronomy 26: 5). Centuries later, early Christian communities knew what it was to suffer at the hands of the prevailing authorities, and to look to their brothers and sisters for prayer and support.
Singing the Faith Plus offers worship resources for Christians to explore the challenges and opportunities around refugees.
- Hymns – a starter list of hymns that respond to some of the questions raised by refugees and asylum seekers (see below)
- What the Bible says – a brief overview of responses to refugees
- Further articles for reading
Refugees – a starter list of hymns
Syrian refugees resting on the floor of Keleti railway station, Hungary, 5 September 2015
A number of hymns in Singing the Faith touch on the Christian response to refugees and those who, as David Bankhead and his colleagues put it, have no voice in our land.
Many of the most obvious such hymns come from the Justice and Peace section of the hymn book (#693 – 723) with one (Ruth Duck’s “Come, now, you blessed, eat at my table”) reminding us of the generous welcome to all proclaimed at the communion table.
- Beauty for brokenness (StF 693) – one of Graham Kendrick’s most familiar justice hymns speaks of “refuge from cruel wars, havens from fear, cities for sanctuary, freedoms to share”
- Heaven shall not wait (StF 701) – combines anger and rejoicing in saying that Jesus has already done what we should do for others – “he has married word and action”
- I will speak out for those who have no voices (StF 702) – echoing the voices of Old Testament prophets
- The love of God comes close where stands an open door (StF 654) – God’s love present when the stranger is invited in
- There are no strangers to God’s love (StF 716) – Andrew Pratt’s overt hymn about God’s love, national borders and those who seek sanctuary: “Bounded by nationhood and lie, in fear we shrouded love’s own face”
- We lay our broken world in sorrow at your feet (StF 718) Anna Briggs’ hymn of confession
In addition, on StF+ itself, four other hymns focus particularly on the subject of welcome to our neighbour – not solely, but including, refugees. These include John M. Smith’s retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan, and To the dark place bring a candle by Richard Lucas, which allows flexible use of different verses according to the emphasis required.
- If we claim to love our neighbour by Andrew Pratt
- In this house all people will be welcome by Paul McDermott
- To the dark place bring a candle by Richard Lucas
- “Who is my neighbour?” asked the Scribe by John M. Smith
And for words to remind us that the Christian life is one of journeying, try Joy Dine’s increasingly popular hymn, God who sets us on a journey (website only)
God who sets us on a journey
to discover, dream and grow,
lead us as you led your people
in the desert long ago…
Bible stories and passages to consider – a selection of Bible readings about those who were forced to leave their homes or who faced persecution, together with suggestions of further articles and resources