Migrant and Refugee Sunday.23rdAugust 2020

Refugee and Migrant Sunday is a celebration of the dignity of people who are refugees and migrants and the contribution they have made to life in Australia.  It is celebrated by the Churches together on or around the last Sunday of August each year.
(see also resources in World Refugee Day)

Huddled Masses – a song by Shaina Taub (released 2018)
Youtube audio here

There once was a little boy
Who dreamed of preaching a gospel truth
He lived in a country with an evil king
Who was killing all the youth
His family fled the country
In search of freedom’s flame
He was raised a refugee
Jesus was his name

Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses on your teeming shore
Yearning to breathe free
Send them all to me
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses on your teeming shore
I lift my lamp beside the golden door
Remember what I stand here for

There once was a little girl
Who dreamed of being a writer
She lived in a country with an evil king
Who burned people who prayed like her
Her family tried to flee it
To keep their kid alive
Anne was raised a refugee
Just her diary survived

Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses on your teeming shore
Yearning to breathe free
Send them all to me
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses on your teeming shore
I lift my lamp beside the golden door
Remember what I stand here for

There once was a young man
Who dreamed of earning his degree
He lived in a country with an evil king
Who bombed his family
He flew to reach our border
To start his life anew
He’s detained today at JFK
We did not let him through

Oh, let him come through
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses on your teeming shore
Learning to be free
Send them all to me
Welcome all Muslims, Christians, Jews and more
Every child fleeing hate and war
I lift my lamp beside the golden door
And I’ll forever lift my lamp beside the golden door
Remember what I stand here for
(Source: DIE HAPPY album, released March 12, 2018. Music & Lyrics by Shaina Taub)

Hymns and songs of Hospitality to refugees and Immigrants a compilation of music including many well known tunes with thoughtful new words. The free resource of 46 hymns from The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. The collection includes not only hymns reflecting the concerns and experiences of refugees, and how we respond as Christians; it also includes words and music from some of the regions directly affected by events and circumstances that lead to migration.

A hymn for ‘boat people’
O God of mercy, at whose call
the ocean waters rise and fall,
protect the people on the sea
who from oppression seek to flee.
O hear us as our prayers we speak
for those who safe asylum seek.

They come from lands where tyrants reign
to seek a refuge from their pain.
They look to us to give them scope
to build a life of peace and hope.
O hear us as our prayers we speak
for those who safe asylum seek.

Yet politicians mock their plight
and commentators whip up fright.
Now let their noise and lies depart:
convert each demagogic heart!
O hear us as our prayers we speak
for those who safe asylum seek.

God bless this nation, “girt by sea”,
with broader hospitality.
May gen’rous hearts around this land
obey with love your great command.
O hear us as our prayers we speak
for those who safe asylum seek.
(Source: Robert J. Faser, 29th June 2014; Tune: Melita, 88.88.88)

(Bob writes: I wrote this hymn in response to news reports of a boat of asylum seekers being in distress off the coast of Christmas Island and of the inaction of the government in response to this tragedy-in-the-making. The inaction of the government is all the more tragic, given the prominence in the current government of politicians who wear their Christian faith on their sleeves. I wrote it with the hymn “Eternal Father, strong to save …” (Together in Song, 138) in mind, with the repeated refrain: “O hear us as we cry to Thee / for those in peril on the sea.” As a result, the hymn is written with the tune Melita in mind. While I write this hymn as a Christian, I’ve deliberately written it as a hymn that can be sung with integrity by Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith. This hymn is available free-of-charge to any congregation, denomination, ecumenical gathering, or interfaith gathering who wishes to use it in worship, particularly in a service focusing on our response as people of faith to asylum seekers).




Dialogue with two women.Sojo for two women – profoundly moving.

Iona has two downloadable PDF resources that might be of interest – Jesus was a refugee and Refugee Evensong.

Silence Land – a poem by Mohammed Ali Maleki, 2017 while on Manus:
I have doubts about my sanity:
not everyone can bear this much.
They stole all my feelings;
there’s no wisdom left in my mind.
I am just a walking dead man.
I am just a walking dead man.
I have yelled for help so many times –
No one on this earth took my hand.
Now I see many mad things and imagine
how the world would look if it collapsed.
Perhaps it would be good for everything to
return to the past;
for nothing to be seen on the earth or in the sky.
It would feel so good to be a child
again and go back to my mother’s womb,
for there to be no sign of me
for never to have gone crazy in this place
I sound crazy speaking this way! It’s the outcome of being detained for four years after seeking asylum on the sea. Mohammed Ali Maleki, 2017
(This poem, abridged, by an Iranian asylum seeker in detention on Manus Island were read as part of a poetic performance called ‘Through the Moon’). Sourced from ‘Adelaide Voices’, Sep-Nov 2017

Call to Leaders regarding Refugees
The Uniting Church in Australia responds
to the grace proclaimed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
who himself was a refugee.
We are called to work with all our hearts and minds
to love God, who is revealed in Jesus Christ.
We are called to express love and generosity of spirit
to the world for whom Christ died,
including the most marginalized people.
We seek to love the neighbour who is different
and welcome the stranger in our midst.
We implore civic leaders
to reflect the deep values of Australians,
shaped by different nations and cultures,
who seek to live in a world
characterized by peace and goodwill.
We therefore ask those leaders to embrace
a spirit of compassion
and concern for human dignity
in their considerations with regards
to Refugee and Asylum-seeker policy development.
(Source: Amelia Koh-Butler, Adopted by the South Australian Presbytery and Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia, October 2016)

2015 resources here.

Liturgy notes for 2011 prepared by SA Council of Churches Liturgy_Notes

Uniting Justice resources here.

Prayer guide: asylum seekers and refugees (Salvation Army)

A blessing for refugees:
“We bless the host nations in their spirit of compassion and sharing that their citizens may be awakened to the immense human, intellectual and cultural wealth these newcomers represent for them. We bless all concerned in their consciousness that my sister or brother is myself and that the challenge of integrating these immigrants is truly an amazing gift of the universe in helping all work toward the win-win world that alone will guarantee the survival of the human race”.
(Source: Pierre Pradervand, 365 Blessings to Heal Ourselves and the World)

Opening prayer
With respect and gratitude for the original custodians of this land, we gather together to affirm in hope and faith that we can create a sacred space of welcome for all who live in Australia (Let us pray )
God, you call us to be in relationship, building community with one another, working with one another, supporting and healing one another.
God, you call us into a community working for the common good of all people, making choices that bring hope, justice, truth and freedom to our world.
God, you call us into community with the whole of creation, always cherishing, nurturing and renewing the earth.
O God, You are the source of human dignity, and it is in your image that we are created. Pour out on us the Spirit of love and compassion.
Enable us to reverence each person:
to reach out to those in need:
to value and appreciate those who differ from us:
to share the resources of our nation:
to receive the gifts offered to us by people from other cultures.
Grant that we may always promote the justice and acceptance that ensures lasting peace and racial harmony. Help us to remember that we are one family. Amen.
(from resources for “Refugee & Migrant Sunday” 2006)

God of compassion and love, 
look with mercy on those who today
are fleeing from danger,
homeless and hungry.
Bless those who work to bring them relief;
inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts; 
and guide the nations of the world towards that day
when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and of peace;
We pray in the name of Jesus, a refugee as a child, 
and who had no place to call his own as an adult. 

Loving God, no one is a stranger to you and no one is ever far from your loving care. In your kindness, watch over refugees and victims of war, those separated from their loved ones, young people who are lost. May they find places of protection, refuge and safety. May compassion grow within us so we may show your kindness to strangers and to all in need. Amen.

We pray for all people who are encountering each other in a new way because of migration. We pray that we may see that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, loved and respected. May refugees and migrants never lose hope that there will be a better life and a hand of welcome.
Lord hear us, Lord hear our prayer
We pray that refugees and asylum seekers, displaced families and homeless people might be welcomed into places of safety, shelter and long-term security. We pray for families who have become separated because of conflict and violence. May resettlement countries do everything they can to bring back together husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters separated by war and violence.
Lord hear us, Lord hear our prayer
We pray for church Leaders, and members of religious communities, that they will continue to affirm that every human being is a child of God and bears the image of Christ, and to show leadership in speaking out for the rights of refugees and migrants, and.
Lord hear us, Lord hear our prayer

Love your neighbour
Jesus, friend and brother, You know what it is like to be hungry and thirsty.
You know the plight of the Stranger who is made unwelcome.
You know the suffering of all who have lost everything.
We pray that by welcoming the asylum seeker we may show
love for our neighbour and draw closer to you. Amen.
(Source: Tony Singleton)

Wise and compassionate God, 
help us to be willing to respond to the needs of refugees and asylum-seekers 
and not simply seek to shift the burden of care onto others.
Call our leaders to justice, generosity and compassion. 
Help them create and implement strategies that are fair and just 
and treat refugees and asylum-seekers with dignity and care.
O God, our comforter, 
we ask you to comfort the broken-hearted and protect the vulnerable. 
We pray for those who live in fear of detention and removal, 
for those who are in detention at this time 
and for those who face removal to an uncertain future. 
We ask you to assure them of your great love, 
surround them with your presence and fill them with your peace. Amen.

God bless our eyes so that we will recognise injustices.
God bless our ears so that we will hear the cry of the stranger.
God bless our mouths so that we will speak words of welcome to newcomers.
God bless our shoulders so we will be able to bear the weight of struggling for justice.
God bless our hands so that we can work together with all people to establish peace.
(Source here)

Gracious God,
thank you for our nation, Australia.
Thank you for the way it has developed over the years.
Thank you for the diverse cultures that make up Australia that we can experience and enjoy.
Thank you God.
Forgive us as a nation when we fall short of what you want for us.
Forgive us when we subject others to injustice, racism and oppression.
Forgive us when we don’t extend our hospitality
And when we make others feel unwelcome.
Forgive us God.
We pray for our Government and all decision makers,
Guide them and guide us all.
We pray for unity for our nation and for your continuing presence among us.
Lead your people, enable us to accept each others’ differences.
Reshape us and as we celebrate the new life you bring.
Hear our prayer Lord. Amen
(Source: Karen Guiao, Mission Prayer Handbook 2002, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, p. 11, adapted)

God of Abraham. Sarah and Hagar,
God of travellers, migrants and refugees.
Thank you for the beauty and uniqueness of this southern land which we share.
Grant your protection and grace to all who shelter here.
Forgive the racism and destruction that have been part of our history,
and our disregard for the pain and oppression within the Australian community today.
Help us shed our provincial expectations. Take away our cultural tunnel vision.
Open our hearts to be caring neighbours to each other.
Direct our lives to just and peaceful action.
God of a thousand faces, help us also to acknowledge you are worshipped in many languages,
 in different songs and rhythms of life from our own.
May we respect these religious insights in each other and
assist each faithful expression of you.
We rejoice in you, God, in whose image we are brothers and sisters.
and by whose example in Jesus Christ we know the breadth and depth
of your universal love. Amen
(Source: Mission Prayer Handbook 1991, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, p. 7)

God of Justice, give us ears to hear with you the cries of
your children held captive by prejudice and racism;
God of Justice, give us eyes to see with you 
beyond our own prejudices to dignity and identity;
God of Love, give us hearts to love with you beyond the
structures and systems we have created to keep your children in bondage;
God of Love, give us courage to seek reconciliation and to
be mediators for peace and freedom for all. Amen
(Source: Ranjini Rebera, Mission Prayer Handbook 1992, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly p. 26, adapted)

We beg you, Lord,
to help and defend us.
Deliver the oppressed,
pity the insignificant, raise the fallen;
show yourself to the needy, heal the sick,
bring back those of your people
who have gone astray;
feed the hungry, lift up the weak,
and take off the prisoners’ chains.
May every nation come to know
that you alone are God,
that Jesus Christ is your Child,
that we are your people
and the sheep of your pasture. Amen.
(Source: Clement of Rome 1st Century)

A multicultural church in multicultural Australia – a prayer
God of indigenous peoples, and migrant groups old and new,
God of Ruth, loving and loyal in a new land,
God of Esther, courageous to save her people from ethnic cleansing,
Only your love can break through our boundaries of race and culture, of ignorance and fear.
I am a Samoan Australian
I am an Aboriginal Australian
I am an Anglo Australian
I am a Korean Australian
I am……(other examples)
We are all Australians. Creator God, you are making a new Australia of us all. We want it to be an Australia that honours you:
that stands strongly for your way; that gives a fair go; that builds peace.
May God helps us to respond to this challenge.

We all bring the unity and acceptance that are God’s gift to us.
Spirit of God, empower us to prove that your way of compassion and community is the way we are going forward together, with Jesus. Amen.
(Adapted, from the ‘Conference on Multiracial ministry in a changing Australia’)

O God, you created all people in your image.
We thank you for the astonishing variety
of races and cultures in this world.
Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of friendship,
and show us your presence
in those who differ most from us,
until our knowledge of your love is made perfect
in our love for all your children;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lutheran Book of Worship: Minister’s Desk Edition,
(Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1978)

Wilderness God, your Son was a displaced person in Bethlehem, a refugee in Egypt, and had nowhere to lay his head in Galilee. Bless all who have nowhere to lay their head today, who find themselves strangers on earth, pilgrims to they know not where, facing rejection, closed doors, suspicion, and fear. Give them companions in their distress, hope in their wandering, and safe lodging at their journey’s end. And make us a people of grace, wisdom, and hospitality, who know that our true identity is to be lost, until we find our eternal home in you. Through Christ our rejected yet risen Lord. Amen.
(Source: Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London)

flight to egypt

Isaac Fanous (Egyptian, 1919-2007), Flight to Egypt.

O God, faith of tenderness and mercy,
Look with compassion on those who have left their homes and families
In order to find a refuge of safety and justice.
Through the efforts of Governments, aid agencies and all people of good will,
May they be welcomed to a new home where they experience that safety and justice.Open our hearts, Lord, to recognise our need
To care for others and relieve the distress of all who are suffering.
Fill us with a spirit of wisdom
That we too may do all in our power to respond to the needs of our fellow men and women.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen
(Source: Glasgow Churches Together)

(Source:Emily Parsons Dickau, Global Christian Worship)

Responsive prayer
O God, our help in ages past:
it was you who led the Israelites through the wilderness,
a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.
We pray that you will guide the vulnerable and desperate migrants
who today search out new hope and new life.
As they search for a way out,
as they board ships and trucks and cross fences,
as they carry children and walk for miles,
protect them, Lord.

Our hope for years to come:
you created all people to flourish
to live in safety, to find meaning,
to experience love, to seek after you.
We pray for those who have lost hope, safety, love, and faith.
We pray for parents whose children have been lost or have died.
We pray for children who are going without food, water, and safety.
We pray for communities abandoned and for communities overwhelmed.
Oh God, bring miraculous and life-giving hope.

Our shelter from the stormy blast:
you are the one who brings peace.
You are our mother hen, protecting us under your wings.
We pray for an end to the tyranny of ISIS and to the violence in Syria.
Protect those who haven’t yet found a way to leave.
We pray for the hearts of those who are intent to kill.
We pray for the eyes of the world to turn toward this war.
Give wisdom to the leaders who must choose how to facilitate peace.

Our eternal home:
in you we find life and providence,
for this life and for the next.
For those who have lost everything, we pray you will rebuild their lives.
For those desperate for a new home, open the doors to safer places.
For those longing for the basic necessities of life, restore their material goods.
For those whose communities and families have been ripped apart, strengthen new bonds of friendship.
And for the church, near and far, which worships in safety today — inspire us to welcome the stranger.
Help us to discern how to reach out to refugees in acts of mercy and how to help them seek justice for long-term hope.
(Source: Christian Reformed Church)

A Prayer for Refugees
Hear us, Lord, as we raise our voices;
in you we take refuge.
Preserve those whose life is threatened by enemies
and who are the target of bitter words or evil schemes.
Remember those who are vulnerable and exposed,
those who are victims of natural disaster, war, and persecution,
those suffering anguish and sorrow.
Bring them to safety;
in you we take refuge.
Give shelter to those seeking a hiding place,
to those torn from their homes,
those who are separated from loved ones,
those who are lost or have run away.
Bring them to safety;
in you we take refuge.
You look with mercy and love on all refugees.
Help us to welcome the stranger, befriend the lonely, and show compassion.
Allow your Spirit to move in us and teach us to seek justice,
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you, telling of all your works.
Let us rejoice and give praise;
in you we take refuge.
(Source:Psalms for All Seasons, Psalm 64C, by Melissa Haupt)


This icon is by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM and the actual title is ‘Christ of Maryknoll.’
Artist’s Narrative:
I have named this icon “Christ of Maryknoll” because Maryknoll and Orbis Books mean so much to me. Both endeavor to see the Christ among the least of us, and to serve the Christ that lives in the margins of this world. Maryknoll priests, brothers, sisters and lay people have been imprisoned in China and elsewhere for their work among the poor, the broken, the oppressed; Orbis has taken great risks to extend the Maryknoll vision.
I hope this icon will bring inspiration to all those who share in that vision. The icon does not make clear which side of the fence Christ is on. Is he imprisoned or are we? Through our cultural institutions and personal lives we all place barriers between ourselves and true happiness. We and our institutions also try to imprison Christ in various ways, to tame him and the dangerous memories he would bring us of our goals and ideals.
Br. Robert Lentz, OFM, September 11, 2002 (Source: Read more here)

For the first time since World War II, the UN Refugee Agency placed the number of forcibly displaced refugees worldwide at 59.5 million. Even in Biblical times, we read about people who crossed a border for trade or protection, were trafficked across a border, or exiled to another country. We pray for the protection of those forced to flee, embrace those who have made it safely to our country, and celebrate how our new neighbors have become beacons of hope and renewal in our communities. Together, we have welcomed the stranger in Christ’s name. We pray:
Mighty Lord, as you guided the Israelites, through the wilderness,
be a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day for refugees in search of new hope and new life.
As you brought the Israelites out of bondage to freedom,
bring refugees out of persecution to safety.
As you protected the Israelites through 40 years in the desert,
protect those who languish for years in refugee camps.
Wipe away their tears of sorrow,
that their mourning may give way to joyous hope.
Put an end to warfare and tyranny,
that some may return home without fear of violence.
Open the doors of safer nations,
that some may find new homes in new lands.
Rebuild their lives,
that they might enjoy the fruit of labors in peace.
Revive their hope,
that they might face a future with promise.
Shine your grace upon them,
That they might know your love.
Strengthen their bonds of friendship and family,
That we might serve one another with encouraging love.
Bless our nation with a spirit of openness,
That our communities and country may be renewed and strengthened by newcomers.
And inspire your churches to welcome the stranger,
That together we might build communities of hope where strangers become neighbours and friends, and brothers and sisters. Amen.
Adapted from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, ELCA Refugee Sunday Kit.

Prayer for others
God of mercy, help me to remember:
My ancestors came across the seas!
Help me keep in my mind
Those who came long ago
And those who now come to our shores.
As I face you in prayer, God of Compassion,
I remember my country’s words:
Send them back or Stop the boats.
Then I fear, not your anger
But the steady gaze of boundless love
and unlimited compassion
That impel me to hear Jesus’ command:
Love one another, as I have loved you
Or Pope Francis’ call to open our hearts
To a universal communion
Which excludes nothing and no one.
Daring to step into such relationship, I pray
for those forced to leave family,
home and all they hold dear;
May they find safe passage and helping hands.
I pray for an end to the wars and oppression
that forced them to leave;
I pray that those who welcome them
are blessed in abundance.
And with deep humility
and a heart hungry for justice,
I pray that we Australians, citizens and leaders,
Open our eyes, our minds and our hearts
That we may see, understand and welcome
our brothers and sisters.
May our change of heart penetrate to our beginnings
As strangers in this land.
May we allow those we displaced
– the First People of this land – to welcome us.
Then knowing, in humility, what it is to be welcomed,
We will know how to welcome
the strangers who come to our shores.
This we ask in the name of Jesus your Son,
In whom we are no longer strangers. Amen.
(Source: Australian Catholic Social Justice Council)

Prayer for those who seek refuge in our land
Sheltering God,
You were born in flight,
Your parents anxious and given no rest.
The manner of your birth calls us to
Open-heartedness and sensitivity to the strangers in our midst.
Help us not to flee your challenge.
The violence of the present time teaches us fear of the stranger,
Reluctant to reach out to those who are different.
Grace us this day as we seek
To see you in the faces of those uprooted,
Weary, as they seek refuge and peace. Amen.
Blessed are the wanderers and those adrift.
Blessed are the strangers at our door.
Blessed are the unfed, the homeless on the road.
Blessed is the child crying in pain.
Blessed is the mother working to provide for her children, left behind in her native country.
Blessed are those who welcome Christ to be born again when they welcome these ones.
Blessed are we who struggle to make a place in our hearts for all of our brothers and sisters. Amen.
O God,
You welcome all your children,
And embrace the prodigals ones,
Help us open our hearts
And welcome all who come, searching
As our ancestors did,
For asylum and the promise of a new land, a new life.
Root out fear from our souls;
Help us form the words
‘Sister’ and ‘Brother’
As we greet those who seek refuge in our land.
Let us remember that,
With your grace,
There are enough loaves and fishes
To go around
If we come together
As your family.
Give us the courage
And the compassion
To respect the rights of all
In this country of abundance,
To embrace all in
The name of your love. Amen.
(Source: Jesuit Social Justice Centre)

A poem – Sea Belongers
Being a refugee isn’t tough if you’ve been through worse
Forced to leave everything behind and run for what seemed to be life now.
Wishing to have said goodbye to your loved ones
Many people couldn’t make it
Now I just wonder what it would have been like if I never left
Mum says we won’t see them again
Her eyes drown in tears.
The boats were horrid
The ocean hit against the boat so harshly
Like it was telling us we didn’t belong there either
How it swallowed hundreds of people alive
How I watched my sister drown, without a single sound she was gone
Never to be seen again
Contemplating the pain she went through to get freedom
For as long as the ocean flows
people will go.
Looking farther into the open blue I realised
how peaceful yet daunting it felt to feel so free but not alive
lucky to focus on how the boats felt and not how I felt
as the emotional pain I was going through was far worse.
We saw dry land
It was strange and satisfying for a few moments
until soldiers came running and thumping towards us
with guns…
We have seen many before
The reason why we left, yet we face it once again
If something is meant to be, no matter where you go
destiny finds you
Without thinking twice, we get on the ground with our
hands behind our neck
My brother did the same though he was only four
Did he really deserve this?
What’s the point of his existence if he will never
experience true happiness?
I closed my eyes shut with my little brother tight against
my chest
and my mother holding both of us together
I didn’t open my eyes for a long time
When I did I found myself behind a fence caging
everyone inside
I was happy that I got to sleep at night and eat some
food every day
When I have nothing to do
I stand very close to the fence
and look as far towards freedom as possible
hoping I will never have to look back
but every time I turn around
I’m still where I started.
(Source: Meher Hussaini, Wake, University of South Australia MOD).


Migrant and Refugee Sunday music resources, from the Singing from the Lectionary website.

O For a Church (Tune: AZMON)
O for a church with open doors
that’s been so long our dream,
Where faith and hope, and care for all
show the love of Christ supreme!

With prayer and trust,
the time has come to make our vision plain –
God grant us strength and energy
and we shall our goal attain.

Then all who come may enter in,
no barriers they’ll find,
Where young and old, the weak, the strong,
may all join with hearts and mind.

O God of love, O Christ of peace,
the Holy Spirit’s power:
Break down the walls,
unite us all making this a shining hour.

Throughout the coming years, O God,
keep your vision always clear,
That we may ever serve you well,
and live your way with cheer.
(Source: Rev. Ann N. Graves)

Just as the Rainbow (Tune: ‘Colours of Hope’, D C Damon)
Just as the rainbow, bright with its promise,
holds in its prism spectrums of light,
so do our human cultures and colours
bring to each other depth and delight.

Colours adorn us, colours define us,
colours enliven nature’s own art,
colours divide us, stark in their meaning,
black and white judgments tear us apart.

Fear of the stranger, unspoken anger,
shades of misgiving show in our face,
colours of blood have stained our traditions,
led us to conflict, race against race.

God give us eyes to value our neighbour,
judging no colour, image or skin,
but where the heart is, open to friendship,
care and connection making us kin.

God give us wisdom, luminous thinking,
prizing this rainbow, sensing its scope,
finding the gold in icons of others,
working to paint the colours of hope.
(Words: Shirley Erena Murray)
(This could also be adapted, offering the words of v.2&3 as confession, and v.4&5 as affirmation/commitment, and then sing the song together)

God, How Can We Comprehend?
(“Jesus, Lover of My Soul”; “Watchman, Tell Us of the Night”)
God, how can we comprehend — though we’ve seen them times before —
Lines of people without end fleeing from some senseless war?
They seek safety anywhere, hoping for a welcome hand!
Can we know the pain they bear? Can we ever understand?

You put music in their souls; now they struggle to survive.
You gave each one gifts and goals; now they flee to stay alive.
God of outcasts, may we see how you value everyone,
For each homeless refugee is your daughter or your son.

Lord, your loving knows no bounds; you have conquered death for all.
May we hear beyond our towns to our distant neighbors’ call.
Spirit, may our love increase; may we reach to all your earth,
Till each person lives in peace; till your world sees each one’s worth.

© 1999 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today’s Worship (Geneva Press, 2000).
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com/
Carolyn gives permission for the free use of her hymns and asks that you share them with other churches to encourage churches to help refugees who are fleeing war and persecution. Email bcgillette@comcast.net for these hymns formatted for a worship bulletin insert in MS Word (also helpful for projection software) and with the hymn texts formatted with the music.

If I Saw My Toddler MUELLER (“Away in a Manger”)
If I saw my toddler with hands in the air
In fearful surrender to someone, somewhere,
I’d search for a people in some other place
Who practiced their preaching and showed love and grace.

If I had to flee from the madness of war—
From terror and violence and things I abhor,
I’d search for a nation with arms open wide,
With safety and beauty and friendships inside.

Be with me, Lord Jesus, as I seek to be
A friend to the stranger and poor refugee,
And as I remember you once had no bed,
May I give up fear and give welcome instead.

This hymn was inspired by a photo of a small Syrian child, hands in the air, fearing that a camera lens was a gun.
© 2015 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com/
Carolyn gives permission for their free use and asks that you share them with other churches to encourage churches to help refugees who are fleeing war and persecution. Email for the hymn text formatted with the music.

Abraham Journeyed to a New Country
BUNESSAN D (“Morning Has Broken”)
Abraham journeyed to a new country;
Sarah went with him, journeying too.
Slaves down in Egypt fled Pharaoh’s army;
Ruth left the home and people she knew.

Mary and Joseph feared Herod’s order;
Soldiers were coming! They had to flee.
Taking young Jesus, they crossed the border;
So was our Lord a young refugee.

Some heard the promise — God’s hand would bless them!
Some fled from hunger, famine and pain.
Some left a place where others oppressed them;
All trusted God and started again.

Did they know hardship? Did they know danger?
Who shared a home or gave them some bread?
Who reached a hand to welcome the stranger?
Who saw their fear and gave hope instead?

God, our own families came here from far lands;
We have been strangers, “aliens” too.
May we reach out and offer a welcome
As we have all been welcomed by you.

© 2010 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com/

This hymn is part of “In the Beginning: Genesis in Scripture, Prayer and Song“, a service patterned after the Service of Lessons and Carols for Christmas and based on the stories of Genesis (Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and his wife, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Women and Joseph). This creative service is a great resource for a lay Sunday or instead of a guest preacher.

A New Father, Awe-Struck MUELLER (“Away in a Manger”)
A new father, awe-struck; a mother so mild;
A stable; a manger; a dear, newborn child —
God, as we imagine that family so blessed,
We sometimes forget they were poor and oppressed.

A woman — considered to have no real worth —
Said, yes! She would bear your own Son here on earth.
We hear her bold singing! Her faithful words soar:
“God humbles the rich and God lifts up the poor.”

As Joseph and Mary began a new home,
They suffered oppression from rulers in Rome.
Then, fleeing from Herod to save their son’s life,
They looked for a land free from violence and strife.

We hear in our own day the cries of the poor;
We see in Aleppo the terror of war*.
In women and children and men who must flee,
We glimpse, Lord, your life as a young refugee.

When some say that only the wealthy have worth,
O God, we recall where you lived here on earth.
May we in your church serve the poor and distressed;
For, working for justice, we give you our best.

Source © 2016 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com/

Hymn Note for “A New Father, Awe-Struck”
This hymn begins with a traditional image of a manger scene, and becomes a prayer that we may look deeper — at our loving God who chose to come into this world as someone who was poor, powerless, in danger, and a refugee. It is a prayer for the church to work for justice as our gift to Jesus.
*Praying for the day when the fighting in Aleppo will be history and not a tragic current event, here is a substitute second line for the fourth verse:
“We see in your world, God, the terror of war.”

If anyone thinks that Robert Frost was promoting the building of walls, they should reread the poem that made the phrase “Good fences make good neighbors” famous.

Mending Wall
by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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2 Responses to Migrant and Refugee Sunday.23rdAugust 2020

  1. Dorothy Haensel says:

    Thank you, Sandy. I came across this site accidentally – no, I was lead to it by a comment I heard on local ABC Radio that this coming Sunday is World Refugee and Migrant Sunday. My planning for this coming Sunday has now taken a different path and these resources will be a great aid. We have little contact with Refugees and Migrants here in Mansfield but do have a community group which is part of Rural Australians for Refugees which is helping to raise awareness. Best Wishes and Blessings Dorothy Haensel

  2. Pingback: Refugee Week (World Refugee Day June 20) | pilgrimwr.unitingchurch.org.au

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