Qualities of relationship

This reflection was given during the daily Eucharist in the chapel of an Anglican convent.  The Scripture it references is Matthew 5:20-26.

“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

It’s a difficult teaching, this one, and I suspect honoured much more in the breach than in the observance.  If all Christian people really did seek to be reconciled with their brothers and sisters before coming to the altar, our parishes would be much healthier places.

But it struck me, as I was considering this, that we tend to read it very much on an individual level.  I must be reconciled before I come before God.  But we never come to God’s altar just as an individual; we gather here always in community.  We must be reconciled to one another before we come to God.

It struck me that there’s something about who we are when we gather here that is more than the sum of its parts.  We don’t just each of us offer our individual selves, but we offer our community, with its relational qualities and its synergies, as a living sacrifice.

No wonder reconciliation is so important; we wouldn’t want to offer to God a fractured, disordered or agitated body.

Now of course, I wouldn’t dare comment on whether that’s ever true here.  I’m a guest in your life and you’re best placed to reflect on that yourselves.

But I’d encourage you to consider that the quality of our relationships is part of what we bring with us, when we come before God, and to consider whether they need any attention in your own life.

We’re not alone

I wrote this prayer today for a friend of mine who has a child with special needs; but I wanted to share it, because if there’s one thing struggling parents need to know, it’s that we’re not alone!

A mother’s Lenten prayer:

Lord, I know that Lent is traditionally a time
when people seek you in prayer,
in peace and solitude,
in fasting and sincere reflection.

I’m sorry, Lord, that I’m seeking you
in the toy clutter,
in the caffeine-fuelled routine,
and in the turmoil of meltdowns.

I know it doesn’t seem very respectful,
or pious, and I’m sure
some of my elders-and-betters at church,
think this is not how it should be.

But Lord, this is my life.
This is the fabric of my days,
this is where my heart is held,
this is where my hands are full.

All I can do, is lift it all
into your gracious presence;
knowing your goodness,
and ask you to be with me in it

and to hallow it all,
that I may keep a holy Lent,
that my loved ones may know your peace,
and that we may reach the Easter joy

of a new morning
(sanity intact).

Prayer matters

This is a sermon for the first Sunday in Lent, given in the ” church up the road” and the “church next door.”  The Scripture it references is Psalm 32.

I want to think a little bit this morning about prayer.  Lent’s a time when we traditionally focus on prayer; and as I said on Wednesday night, that’s a key part of the Christian life because it’s our connection to the love of God, how that love is made real and effective in our lives.

But it’s something many of us struggle with; we get all sorts of ideas in our heads about prayer, what is the “right” way to pray, what kind of prayer will actually get an answer, and so on.  And I think today’s psalm is, in its way, trying to deal with one of the commonest problem ideas about prayer, so I want to see what it can say to us about that.

If we look at verse ten, we see that it says, “Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.” At first blush this seems to present us with a problem, because it could be read as if it were suggesting that people suffer because they are wicked.

And then that leads us down a nasty rabbit hole of thinking that when we suffer, it must be because we did something wrong, maybe even that we’re being punished, and that all just pushes us further away from God… you can see why it’s a problem!

But I think that actually that’s not the point that the author was making at all.  I think he was trying to say something very different; I think he was trying to say that God hears our prayer.

Looked at from that point of view, the wicked suffer torments not because they are bad, or because they are being punished, but because they do not pray; they have cut themselves off from relationship with God, and whatever good might flow to them from that.  (And that good might not be change in their external circumstances, but change in their own response to those circumstances!)  On the other hand, those who trust in the Lord, says the psalm, are surrounded by steadfast love; not because they have earned or deserve it, but because they ground themselves in relationship with God, and receive the benefits which flow from that.

God hears our prayer; God responds to our prayer; praying makes a difference.

And I think we need to be reminded of that.  Sometimes it’s difficult to believe that God listens to us, especially when we’re going through a rough time.  But the psalmist is trying to remind us that when we pray, God breaks through the chaos of our lives to set us firmly on the ground.  When we pray, God reaches across the gulf of our broken relationship with God to mend that break, to put our hearts and lives and communities back together.

But part of the reason I think some people struggle with this matter of prayer, is that actually, not all of us naturally pray in the same way.  For some of us, the stereotypical idea of prayer as sitting down, eyes closed, and silently speaking to God in our minds leaves us feeling dry and empty.

So part of what I’d encourage you to think about, this Lent, is whether your prayer life is actually working for you.  And if it isn’t, don’t be afraid to experiment or try something new.

Walk the labyrinth.  See what happens if you sit down to draw while you pray.  Sit with one of the questions Jesus asked his disciples, and see what your own answer is.  Gaze at an icon.  Come to Taizé this evening.  The possibilities are endless, and if you’re not sure where to start, maybe ask to borrow a book or two on different ways to pray – I’ve built quite a collection over time – and see whether any of those ideas grab you.

This is important for two reasons.

One is your spiritual life now; your connection with God, your ability to know God’s steadfast love, and to respond with a love of your own.

But the other reason is that our spirituality changes over time.  What works for you at one point in your life may become dry and empty at another time; often when we’re grieving or depressed or anxious or otherwise going through a rough time, the things which sustained us when life was going well, give us no comfort or peace, and we can be left feeling abandoned or wondering just where God is in all of this.

But if, during the better times, we’ve given ourselves permission to experiment a bit – tried some things which are a bit different, even pushed the edges of our comfort zones – then when the old familiar patterns of prayer are leaving us unsatisfied, we have a bit of a tool kit, as it were, of different things which might help us reconnect in a new way.

I know that when Zoë was diagnosed with autism, I went through a period of real grief and I struggled with what that meant, for me, and for us as a family, but also with what it might mean for her relationship with God.  How would I teach a child with a severe speech delay how to pray?

At that time I found a book called “Praying in Color,” which was all about drawing while praying and letting what was on the page be our communication with God.  Not only was it useful for me in thinking about how my creative little girl might find her own way to relate to God, but I found it enormously helpful for myself to experiment; and since then I’ve been exploring and playing with drawing as a regular part of my prayer life, something I’ve found very enriching.

(And it’s not about talent, by the way; I am nobody’s idea of a naturally gifted artist, but when I’m only drawing for myself and God, that doesn’t matter!)

Really my point is this; prayer matters.  It makes a difference.  And so I encourage you, today and this Lent in particular, to take prayer seriously; to think about how to pray, not just doing more of the same old thing, but how you might enrich your relationship with God.  So that the steadfast love and mercy of God might surround us in our life together.

Wash me throughly

This is a sermon for Ash Wednesday, given in the “church next door.”  The Scripture it references is Psalm 51:2.

Here we are at the start of Lent.  A time to seek God’s mercy; a time when we set aside our noise and bustle to hear the still small voice of the Spirit; a time, not to put too fine a point on it, when we pay attention to the reality of sin, and invite God to do something about it.

As I was thinking about how to do that, I’ve been drawn to the verse from the psalm, which asks God to “wash me thoroughly from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin.”

And I wonder whether the imagery is really all that helpful to us.  Because the way the psalmist puts it, it sounds as if sin is a substance, a dirt which clings to us and can be washed away, leaving us bright and clean.  But I’m not so sure that’s right.

Here’s what I mean.  I don’t think sin is so much a thing in its own right, as an absence of something; an absence of love.  St. Paul described sin as “lawlessness;” and we know that the law can be summed up in two commands; love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; and love your neighbour as yourself.

Julian of Norwich, in her visions, was assured of much the same thing; sin is not a “thing,” a substance, but a quality we experience when grace is not yet complete.

So all of this made me think that I really prefer the old-fashioned English of this verse of the psalm, which, instead of “wash me thoroughly,” asks God to “wash me throughly.”

What’s the difference?  Instead of being washed thoroughly, so that all evil might be removed, I imagine being washed through with God’s grace; with the Holy Spirit pouring God’s love into my heart until it overflows through every part of my being, leaving none of me untouched or still darkened.  Ebbing into all wounds and brokennesses of my humanity and healing them; flooding into all my pride and humbling it; pouring into my unrealised potential and enlivening it.

It’s why, next to this verse in the “thoughtful spot,”* for Lent, I have a picture of Jesus’ baptism; a man immersed in water, and the Spirit hovering over him in light; it seemed to me to capture so very well what it might mean to be washed throughly, and points us back to our own baptism as the place where this process of being loved into wholeness begins.

But of course the process continues from there: and this Lent we have a time to focus on it.  So here is the challenge of Lent, as it presents itself to me this year: what can I do in that process?  How can I put myself in the best possible situation to be washed through by God’s love?

And this is where the traditional disciplines of Lent might be useful; whether it’s time for prayer or meditation, whether it’s fasting, whether it’s seeking the help and wise counsel of others, or indeed coming to confession; all of those things are tools available to you, and I encourage you to consider how best you might use them.  And there are several study group options too; and if you haven’t looked at the leaflet setting them out, I do recommend having a look and seeing whether any of them might speak to where you’re at.

But none of these things are the point; they are means to an end, and that end is to know God’s love for us more fully, and to respond to God in love, more fully.  And to be so filled with those loves that the no-thing, the lovelessness, of sin has no space left to claim in us.

As you came in this evening, I had some music playing, which was a song written by Hildegard of Bingen, the 11th century abbess.  In it, she recalls how at the beginning of time all creatures grew and blossomed before their creator; but now, she says, she and her “little ones” – by which I gather she means the nuns under her care – are tired and failing; a mockery of what they were supposed to be.  But, she says, she knows that the work of God is not complete until our bodies are in fullness of health and arrayed in jewels; so she brings her wounds to the father so that he may stretch out his hand to them, and she implores all of us to do likewise.

It’s a complex poem and my summary doesn’t really do it justice, but that image of bringing our wounds, our vulnerabilities, to the outstretched hand of our loving father, to be restored to health and garbed in dignity, is one worth holding onto; and I encourage you to enter into Lent in that spirit.

 

*The “thoughtful spot” is a shelf in the narthex of the church, which houses a rotating display of quotes, pictures, and other prompts to reflection.

Hildegard’s Procession from ‘Ordo virtutum’ may be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyqUOYdxYJM

lent-image

Priceless

This is a sermon for the eighth Sunday after Epiphany, given in the “church next door.”  The Scripture it references is Matthew 6:22-34.

“You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Are we feeling uncomfortable yet?  I don’t know about you, but there’s little more guaranteed to stir in me feelings of guilt and confusion, than the question of whether I’ve entirely got my priorities right about money.

There are a number of reasons why, of course.  In our society it’s not really polite to talk about money; who has it, who doesn’t, and what we do with it.  Instead we read one another’s clothes and  postcodes and cars as a subtle and complex code for economic status.

And we’ve had a long tradition of Christian suspicion of wealth.  Jesus told at least one person to give everything he had to the poor; and I suspect that many of us worry that if we really listened to what he was saying, he might say something similar to us.

And, more than that, we know that if we’re in this church on Sunday morning, fed, clothed and going about our business, by world standards that makes us filthy rich.  When people overseas die for lack of clean water or food that would cost very little by our standards….

Well, it’s no wonder that this is an uncomfortable subject, is it?

I don’t want to take us all on a guilt trip this morning.  But what can we do with this that’s a bit more constructive rather than anxiety-inducing?

It struck me, as I considered this question, that really we’re talking about an issue of boundaries.

Think of it this way; we know about physical boundaries; whether it’s a polite picket fence or a moat stocked with alligators, a boundary lets you know where things belong and who is responsible for what.  But move away from that sort of concrete geographical marker and we’re much less clear.  Try to add in God – just what is my responsibility in this life, and what is God’s responsibility, anyway? – and we can get ourselves into a world of pain very quickly.

And I think that’s what Jesus is trying to address here.  It’s our responsibility to use what we’ve been given wisely, to live the way God created us to be.  It’s God’s responsibility to make sure that we have what we need.  If we forget that last bit, we can tie ourselves up in knots as we try desperately to control things that, actually, are outside our control.  And we end up chasing money as if that were our purpose in life, instead of recognising that our job is to worship God and walk in his ways, and the money is there to help us do that.  It’s meant to be our servant, not our master.

I actually think it’s one of the weaknesses of our church tradition that we don’t talk about money very much.  Wanting to avoid manipulating or being inappropriate in asking for money for the church, we very seldom dare take on the question of what a Christian approach to structuring one’s finances might look like.  And then we’re surprised when people lack confidence in relating this area of life to our faith.

But I think we can talk about whether we’ve got this relationship the wrong way around; whether money is really an effective tool in our hands, or is driving us unhelpfully.

I’d suggest that, like most things, we can look for the symptoms: is there any anxiety about money, either making it or spending it?  Does money bind us unhelpfully?  I’m not talking there about being unable to upgrade to a mansion, but whether something to do with money gets in the way of living lives which are loving, joyful, and peaceful?  Is money – or the things we do to earn or manage money – an issue in our relationships?  Do we know when to stop working, and when to say no, to make room for other more important things?

There might be other things in play too.  One of the reasons I tend to get anxious about money, I realise, is that I was never really taught about managing money.  I’ve had to teach myself, as an adult, about things like superannuation and mortgages and investments and all the rest of it.  I still rely on my husband to do any internet banking!  And my own ignorance and lack of confidence can mean that worries about money bother me more than they would if I felt I knew what I was doing and had everything properly sorted.  So maybe, for some of us, part of the answer actually lies in being confident that we know how to use our money properly, rather than being at the mercy of systems we don’t understand.

Or it might be that anxiety about money is really masking another, deeper need.  Someone who is in poor health might end up with a distorted attachment to money, because they’re fearful of what might happen and their ability to have basic physical needs met, for example.

Those are questions worth taking seriously.  Maybe, as we head towards the beginning of Lent, taking an inventory of our anxieties, in general, might be a useful way to prepare to let God be at work in them.

Of course, sometimes we simply aren’t aware of our own weaknesses.  One exercise I’ve seen suggested is that of keeping a record, for a while, of everything you spend money on, and how much it costs.  Not with a view to beating yourself up about it, but just with a view to being conscious of the patterns of your own behaviour; patterns we often don’t recognise when they’ve become part of the fabric of everyday life.  I did that for a while as a student, and it was an insight into just how much chocolate I really ate!  A little here and a little there never seemed like much, until I was confronted with a grand total and had to admit that it wasn’t healthy.

My chocolate addiction remains unresolved.  But at least now I am aware of it, and I have a plan to do something about it.  Right after I manage to get enough sleep…

You take my point.  None of us is perfect and I certainly don’t want to come across here as presenting myself as any better than anyone else.  All of us can struggle with keeping things in their appropriate place in our lives.

But here’s the thing.  If we can keep money where it belongs in our lives – as a tool, rather than something that drives us – then it won’t get in the way of what really matters; our relationship with God and our relationships with our loved ones.  It helps us to be the best we can be, approaching life with confidence and joy, knowing that we’re doing our job in this partnership, and God is doing God’s job.  And that really is something priceless.

Not the end of the story

This is a sermon for the seventh Sunday after Epiphany, given in the “church next door.”  The Scripture it references is Matthew 5:38-48.

“Love your enemies.”  I remember the first time I ever preached on this, I was in my first year of college, and I commented in my sermon that I didn’t really feel I had any enemies.  One of the people in the congregation told me that if I got ordained that would be sure to change!

Cynicism about the church aside, this is a hard saying from Jesus.  But if we are going to take seriously the instruction to love our enemies, it would help to know what “love” means here.

The way we usually use the word “love,” it mostly describes our feelings; emotional bonds or longings or likes from the sublime to the ridiculous; affection, fondness, or enthusiasm.

If we hear Christ’s words with that sort of meaning in mind, it can seem quite inhuman.  Which of us is going to have those sorts of feelings for our enemies?  And if we recognise that we don’t, how could we possibly manufacture them?

But as used in the New Testament, in particular, love has more to do with action and responsibility, and less to do with our emotions or liking for someone.  To love is to do what you can to provide for the well-being of another whether you like that person or not.  In his famous passage describing love, Paul doesn’t say anything about our emotions, only that love is patient and kind, without jealousy or boasting, without arrogance or rudeness, doesn’t insist on having its own way, doesn’t rejoice at wrong but rather in the right, and endures everything.

An act of love might be motivated by delight in someone or gratitude for something they have done or any of those sorts of positive human feelings; or an act of love might be done despite exhaustion, depression, fear, aversion or anger; it may be done simply as an act of obedience to God; it may be done as a prayer and an expression of faith and hope that the truth about the people involved is bigger than the lack of positive emotion.

I think, actually, that aspect of faith and hope is really important.  It allows us to take our own current emotions – whatever they are – and say that they’re not the end of the story.  They’re not the final word and they don’t define either me or the person about whom I have those feelings, but both of us are caught up in a bigger reality, both of us beholden to a creator who animates us, both of us bound together in a common human struggle to fulfil that act of creation.

Thomas Merton put it like this: “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.  That is not our business and, in fact, is nobody’s business.  What we are asked to do is love, and this love itself with render both ourselves and our neighbours worthy.”

I have a friend who is a Buddhist monk, who works as a prison chaplain.  He told me once that one of the things he does to teach the prisoners is to get them to think about where their food comes from.  When he first asks, he says, they say something like, “the kitchen.”  But as he presses them to think about it, they realise that they have a meal in front of them only because of a huge complex human organisation of farmers and manufacturers and drivers and retailers and cooks… the simple act of eating connects each prisoner to the rest of humanity in a deep and profound way.

This simple exercise of being aware of where our food comes from, he tells me, is often a first step to helping these deeply alienated men realise that we are all profoundly interconnected and interdependent.  None of us could live our lives without the help of countless others near and far, present and past… friend and enemy.  Everything we have, not just material things, but our words, our ideas, our skills, our faith, the music and stories which give us courage, wisdom and delight; everything we have has been given to us by others.  We are each part of a greater whole.

That understanding, my friend tells me, can be a first step to rehabilitation and the recovery of broken souls in prison.

But it is a wisdom not just for those in prison.  We are each – you and me, our families and friends, and, yes, even our enemies – part of a greater whole in which we participate.  We can no more remove ourselves from that, than pigs can fly.

For the Christian, it goes deeper than seeing what we each have in common as human beings.  We are called to see each human being – no matter how alienating, threatening or confronting – as presenting to us the image of God.  St. John Chrysostom – who didn’t coddle his congregation! – told them bluntly that “If you fail to recognise Christ in the beggar outside the church door, you will not find Christ in the chalice.”

We don’t like this, of course.  We want those who are in some way a problem for us to go away, get lost; we’ve bought into the idea that we can separate good and evil people, and all we need to do is remove the evil people from our midst, and we can have a (relative) paradise.

It’s an illusion that’s good for the ego, but it’s simply not true.  Solzhenitsyn – longtime inhabitant of the Gulag – wrote of his perception of the truth:

“If only it were all so simple!  If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.  But the dividing line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being, and who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

We are saved, Solzhenitsyn saw, and Jesus would agree, not by the killing or removal of our enemies, but by their conversion and ours.  This, too, requires a sense from us that whatever we feel about someone right now, it’s not the end of the story.  Both they and we will go on from this point, and, we trust, change and grow; and so might our relationship.

There are, I think, two ways to engage with this instruction to love our enemies.  We can try to make a mental list of who our enemies are, and then – if not do something concrete for them – at least make sure that we are not actively doing anything to harm them.  That is hard enough.

But more than that, we can ask ourselves, whom in our lives are we not loving?  And that will show us whom we are treating as enemies, even if we don’t want to admit it to ourselves.

But those are precisely those relationships which we need to bring to God, in faith and hope that our current reality is not the end of the story.  And we need to be open to whatever God might ask of us, in being part of the next chapter.

Love the stranger

This is a sermon for the sixth Sunday after Epiphany, given in the “church up the road.”  The Scripture it references is Deuteronomy 10:12-22.

One of the things that Christians have often wrestled with is how we deal with the fact that our Scriptures contain books of laws and commandments which were given by God to the Jewish people; and it’s not always obvious or straightforward to work out how those laws or commandments relate to our lives as Christians.

Some things we decided fairly quickly didn’t apply to us; food restrictions, keeping the Sabbath, the requirements for animal sacrifice, and so forth, we can see being abandoned even in the New Testament.  But if there’s one thing we’ve held onto as absolutely central to Christianity, it’s that human beings have a dual obligation, to love God and love one another.  Jesus himself affirmed this as the principle on which everything else hangs.

So when we come to a passage like today’s reading from Deuteronomy, we need to read carefully; is it dealing with matters of loving God, or loving everyone else?  Listen again to what Moses had to say: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear.”

“You shall also love the stranger.”

We are commanded, we know, to love our neighbours as ourselves.  This reading fleshes that out a bit further; you shall also love the stranger.  It’s not that the stranger is not your neighbour, but that he is a particular category of neighbour; someone who is in some way an outsider to the community; someone who experiences a degree of isolation; someone who is socially vulnerable.

This is, by the way, part of why the movement for social justice is an unavoidable part of authentic Christian life.  Because it’s by working for social justice that we seek to create a society in which those neighbours who are in some way vulnerable have a fair go in life; in terms of access to financial security, opportunities to participate in their community to the full, and opportunities to fulfil their God-given potential.  And we’ve seen this historically in the Christian push to abolish slavery, to establish adequate welfare for those in need, and to provide education to even the poorest in society.

Social justice isn’t optional for us.  It’s part of our very DNA as Christians.  Love the stranger; make sure vulnerability doesn’t turn into suffering.

Let me unpack a specific example for you this morning; and that is the question of how we treat refugees in Australia.

To be clear, a refugee is a person who has been forced to leave his or her home because of war or persecution, and who seeks protection in another country.  By international convention, to which Australia is a party, such a person has a right to protection in another country.

Let me say that again; by international law, a refugee has a legal right to protection in Australia.

But what actually happens to many refugees here is sickening.  It’s not easy to get permission to visit detention centres and I never have; so I rely for my information on accounts written by other people.  The points that follow I’ve taken from a public submission to an Australian senate inquiry, and if you ask me afterwards I can provide you with a link to more information.*

  • Isolation and lack of communication are constant realities. I’ve already mentioned that it’s difficult to get permission to visit; mail deliveries might not happen for up to a month at a time; public phones don’t exist in the centres and even when a refugee might be allowed to leave to use one, it is too expensive for them to make calls; equipment for electronic communication is in disrepair, very slow and requires that the refugee know how to use it and be literate in English.
  • There is a lack of medical care. Illnesses are left untreated.  Pain medication is not given.  Injuries are left to heal, or not.  There are stories of people going blind for want of basic treatment of an eye infection.  One such mother had two young children to care for; children whose smiles she will never see again.  Not only is mental health treatment completely inadequate, but the conditions in which people are kept create and compound existing mental health issues.
  • Fresh water supply is not consistent, and in Nauru has been reported to only be available for two hours a day; in that time refugees must see to their drinking and washing needs. Conditions are often unsanitary.
  • Normal family life is disrupted and the ability of parents to care for their children is compromised.
  • There is lack of legal assistance, or of access to information exercise their legal rights. Interviews determining someone’s future are often held without any legal advisors present.

And people are left in this situation, in limbo, for years on end, with no idea of whether or when they might be able to leave.

That’s just a start.  That’s the beginning of painting a picture for you of what we are doing to these people; people who, let us not forget, have a legal right to our protection.

It’s hardly loving the stranger, is it?

I would go so far as to say this; I have sometimes heard people voice concerns that Australia is losing its character as a Christian nation.  That as religious education has been removed from schools, as same-sex marriage is on the horizon, and so forth, we are becoming a nation detached from our religious heritage.

To those people I would say this: as long as we keep a single refugee locked up in what amounts to a concentration camp, we have no right to any credible claim to being a Christian nation.  Maybe we ought to worry less about whether children in the local primary school are hearing the story of Adam and Eve, and worry more about whether children who have already been traumatised and displaced have any hope for a better tomorrow under Australia’s sun.

I know I stated that strongly, and that some of you might find that confronting.  But sometimes we need to hear things which we find confronting.

We can do better than this.  Our God commands us to actually love the strangers who seek our protection.  And I put it to you this morning that we have a Christian obligation to seek justice and mercy for them.

https://refugeeaction.org/information/inside-the-detention-centres/submission-to-2006-migration_amendment-inquiry/