Change the story
As we journey through the lectionary readings for July, we encounter stories of people who have travelled far and who bring healing.
It is a 'young girl taken captive from the land of Israel' who changes the story for Naaman; the gracious voice of the foreigner who cares for the one who trafficked her. Even in such conditions, she finds it in her heart to provide the necessary information for him to be made well.
It is the Samaritan, the 'other', who changes the story, not only of the man who has been stripped and beaten half-dead, but also of the law. Compassion is the key that opens the story, showing that the law should never get in the way of love.
It is, unexpectedly, the Samaritan who lives out the gospel call. On the risky road from Jerusalem to Jericho, the Samaritan provides the bandages, oil and wine, the money and the commitment to the destitute.
It is three travellers that change the story for Abraham and Sarah, who rush to provide for their need. But it turns out that these are more than travellers and that they are entertaining angels, unaware. And these messengers of the Lord bring life changing news to Sarah and Abraham.
We never do know to whom we are providing hospitality when we offer welcome to the stranger.
‘Be persistent in challenging the negative rhetoric used to talk about refugees.'
Towards the end of the month we hear Jesus tell the story of the persistent neighbour. The one who dares to keep asking changes the story for the hungry, unexpected guest. The knowledge that his friend has enough, and that the unexpected guest has need of it, is enough to make the man persistent in his plea.
This month Christian Aid launches Change the Story. We're invited to be persistent in challenging the negative rhetoric used to talk about refugees; persistent in our call for the government to host higher numbers of refugees.
We must be persistent in our calls for families seeking refuge to be reunited and that the routes to refuge should be safe and legal.
We know that the UK can do more, and that we have more than enough to share with our neighbours.
And we know that it is more often those who are the strangers in our midst who bring healing, who enrich our lives and who bring messages of hope. We therefore seek a change in the media narrative around those seeking refuge. We want to change the story.
Read our prayers for this month.
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