Richard Dawson, 2 May 2016
There can be absolutely no question that we must welcome those who have been refugees into this city. Our own faith is a faith of the refugee and for the refugee. In God’s sight we are all refugees from His love and grace and only because of God’s love and grace do we find a new home back with the God who is our true home. We arrive before God with nothing of any value and we are accepted not as vagrants or interlopers but as daughters and sons of His love. We who were so poor are made rich by God’s love and grace. So the question cannot be one of whether or not we should welcome these people but what real welcome means. Jesus was once welcomed by an important man—Simon the Pharisee, into his house. Jesus was given a place at the table which was certainly a sign of honour and it must have been a considerable risk for Simon to have Jesus there since the Pharisees were already implacably opposed to Him. However, before the meal, a woman of ill repute enters the house and begins to tend to Jesus and wash his feet with her tears and apply an expensive soothing balm to them. The others at the meal are offended that Jesus would even allow this woman to touch him. But Jesus defends her saying that her welcome has been more significant and more real that anything Simon offered. He also explains that because she understood her need and came in the humility of that need, her prayers have been answered. One key learned from this story is that some welcomes can convey more of an “unwelcome.” A hand shake and a hearty “hello” cannot convey anything but the most formal of welcomes. A true welcome requires skin! It requires commitment, time, friendship and resource for if a welcome is not these things then it conveys more an unwelcome than a true welcome. Are we prepared to put skin to our welcome to the Refugees?