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A Revelation...

…And a new sense of freedom.

You wouldn’t know it from reading this blog, which I update only rarely, but I write constantly. It’s how I order my thoughts; it’s how I 'make sense’ of new ideas; it’s how I ‘fit them’ into my world view; it’s how I learn lessons. It’s also ’therapy’ - I find that writing about something painful helps me get it ‘out there’ - out of my mind - so that I can examine it dispassionately, and it helps me ‘marshall my thoughts’ for when I want to tell a real person about whatever’s bothering me. And, if I’m honest, it helps me to connect with God in new ways.

As well as this blog, I keep a ‘therapeutic journal’ - which is all sorts of ‘private’ stuff - things I need to get ‘out of my head’. Most of it goes no further, but some of it gets shared, often in modified form, with my close confidants. Frequently I also write short ‘essays’ which often sit, unfinished, unpolished, on my various electronic writing devices. Recently I have also started to keep a ‘spiritual log’ - where I am writing down ideas, thoughts, revelations from God, which are connected to my relationship with Him. The latter is, gradually, taking over in importance from the ’therapeutic journal’. Perhaps that’s sign that I’m maturing in the faith? Who knows! The ‘essays’ that don’t get ‘transmogrified' into blog posts are tending to end up in the log now, rather than existing as ‘orphans’, alone and unloved in the vast empty spaces of my hard drives.

Who is my Neighbour?

Someone I know has just posted a hateful video on his Facebook feed - it 'features' a British right-wing extremist 'ranting' about Muslim immigrants in 'our' country. All the usual stuff about how hate-filled 'they' are (without an inkling of the irony of what he's saying), and how 'they' ought to be (at best!) 'sent back to where they came from'.

By way of contrast, this Lent, a friend is leading a series of three 'seminars' on "Migrants, Asylum Seekers, Refugees: Some Biblical Perspectives on People on the Move."

The juxtaposition of these two things in my mind has set me thinking. There's an awful lot I could say, offering all sorts of different perspectives. But please allow me to tell you a story - a story which I hope will reveal some of my thoughts and feelings on the matter.

Some months ago, three young ladies of Middle Eastern origin, 'turned up on the doorstep' of our church. They were, to use the current pejorative term, ‘migrants’ or 'asylum seekers'. They were also seekers after something else. In their very broken English, they managed to communicate the idea that they wanted to leave Islam behind, and to embrace Christianity. Which, over a period of weeks, they did, being baptised and confirmed by the bishop at our annual service of baptism and confirmation. They originate from Iran - as do many 'asylum seekers'. To my mind, they are 'seekers of sanctuary' (which I hope sounds kinder, and has less negative connotations - despite meaning the same thing!)... In other words, they simply want to live somewhere where they are safe, and where they are free - free to worship the God they want, rather than being liable to the death penalty for changing their religion - as is, officially, the case in Iran (though I don't think any women have actually been executed for the crime?) - where is the harm in that?

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2016