A Community Unlike Any Other

For Refugee Sunday, we were joined by Noah Bartlett. Noah serves with European Christian Mission with a particular focus on Intercultural Ministries Ireland/Persian ministry in Belfast, and on working with people seeking asylum.

When we use the word ‘refugee’, it can bring up a lot of thoughts on political opinions and crises in society. The term encompasses a very large and diverse group of people – around 114 million are forcibly displaced in the world at the moment.

Noah’s intended focus for us this morning was on the blessing and gift that it is to have among us people, image-bearers of God, who happen to be seeking asylum.


JESUS THE REFUGEE

[CHRIST JESUS], BEING IN VERY NATURE GOD, DID NOT CONSIDER EQUALITY WITH GOD SOMETHING TO BE USED TO HIS OWN ADVANTAGE; RATHER, HE MADE HIMSELF NOTHING BY TAKING THE VERY NATURE OF A SERVANT, BEING MADE IN HUMAN LIKENESS.

Jesus lived a life resembling that of someone who has been displaced. All creation was made by him and for him; he had perfect eternal life in his perfect eternal home. And he left it to live the life of a slave.

Contrary to what may be our assumption, before people are displaced, their lives often look a lot like ours. Many had riches and comfort and yet were forced to leave all of it to become slaves to the asylum system, hostile governments, foreign customs and prejudice. They actually have a great understanding of what Jesus experienced here on earth.

Refugee Sunday is not just a time to feel inspired to help support refugees, but it is an opportunity to listen to the voices of those who have been through the experience of leaving all that they had, to help give us all a greater picture of who Jesus is. Sit and listen to the stories of what people have been through, and you’ll come face to face with what Jesus himself went through.


AN INTERCULTURAL PEOPLE

We cannot be the church that Christ died to create, without people from different backgrounds joining it.

FOR HE HIMSELF IS OUR PEACE, WHO HAS MADE THE TWO GROUPS ONE AND HAS DESTROYED THE BARRIER, THE DIVIDING WALL OF HOSTILITY.

This dividing wall is not between us and God, but between ourselves. There was hostility between Jews and Gentiles, and Jesus brought that wall down.

FOR THROUGH HIM WE BOTH HAVE ACCESS TO THE FATHER BY ONE SPIRIT.

Access to God was granted by Jesus, in equal measure for both Jew and Gentile. The two were reconciled with God but also with each other, and they were meant to join together. All were saved by the same Jesus.

HIS PURPOSE WAS TO CREATE IN HIMSELF ONE NEW HUMANITY OUT OF THE TWO, THUS MAKING PEACE.

Christ’s death and resurrection was an act of creation. It created a new humanity, the church. Our church should be a picture of Heaven on Earth. As it becomes a home for those of different nations, we represent a kind of community that nothing else in the world can offer.

Think about the people that Jesus chose to be his disciples, from all walks of life. When people would see them setting aside their differences, they would know that no earthly power could cause that to happen. Loving each other, submitting to each other, will show the world that we are disciples of Jesus.

Concluding Challenges:

  • Am I willing for ‘my’ community to become some else’s community too, shaped by their preferences and culture?
  • As a church, are we ready to make seats available in leadership positions to people from different cultures, or people who have been forcibly displaced, and to be shaped by the vision and the gifts that God has given them?
  • Are we willing for our times of worship to be shaped by the different cultures in the church?
  • Is the pulpit a place that could be used for testimony and preaching from people of different backgrounds?
  • Are we willing to sit and listen to people who are not like us – and genuinely learn from them?
Sophie Ellery

Sophie Ellery

Hi, I'm Sophie, and I've been going to Windsor Baptist since 2022. I studied Theoretical Physics at Queen's and am now working as a data scientist. In my spare time I enjoy going on walks, reading and occasionally doing some painting!
Sophie Ellery
Hi, I'm Sophie, and I've been going to Windsor Baptist since 2022. I studied Theoretical Physics at Queen's and am now working as a data scientist. In my spare time I enjoy going on walks, reading and occasionally doing some painting!