Racial Justice Sunday

This Racial Justice Sunday, Revd Tim Nicholls (Universities Chaplain) shares a reflection based around this year’s theme of “Exodus”…

“Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have designated Sunday 11th February to be this year’s Racial Justice Sunday. This year we are being given the opportunity to reflect upon the theme of Exodus and to pray for those in search of a home.

“What is it that causes people to seek to leave all that is familiar, and move? How well are they welcomed into their new country? How are they to feel “at home”?

“There is a distinction in the Bible between an Exodus and an Exile. In an Exodus, people flee a terrible situation in the hope of finding a new home (in the Bible story it is the persecution of the Israelites by their Egyptian overlords). In an Exile, the people are forcibly displaced and yearn to return to their former home. In the Old Testament we read of the Israelites later in their history being removed from their lands and exiled in Babylon (Psalm 137:1 “By the rivers of Babylon— there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.”)

“We live in a World where many people do not feel at home. Where people are either in Exodus hoping to find a place to feel safe, where they can finally feel at home; or where they are exiled from their home, because it is no longer habitable, through the effects of climate change or the ravages of conflict.

“According to the latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), “At least 108.4 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them are nearly 35.3 million refugees, around 41 per cent of whom are under the age of 18.” [1]

“This Racial Justice Sunday, we are asked to think and pray for those who are experiencing an Exodus. Those living within our communities but have been made unwelcome. The failings and limitations of our hospitality, preventing those in the wilderness waters of the English Channel, or detention centres or engineless barges off the Dorset coast from ever reaching their promised land of a safe place to call home. One of the most repeated concepts throughout the Bible is an exhortation to welcome the stranger. Maybe God really is trying to say something to us all. So this coming Racial Justice Sunday have a look at the resources that CTBI have offered, and how they might be speaking to you. The words of the new hymn by David Bjorlin are especially powerful and worth thinking about.

Build a Longer Table
Set to the tune Noel Nouvelet

Build a longer table, not a higher wall,
feeding those who hunger, making room for all.
Feasting together, stranger turns to friend,
Christ breaks walls to pieces; false divisions end.

Build a safer refuge, not a larger jail;
where the weak find shelter, mercy will not fail.
For any place where justice is denied,
Christ will break the jail walls, freeing all inside.

Build a broader doorway, not a longer fence.
Love protects all people, sparing no expense.
When we embrace compassion more than fear,
Christ tears down our fences: all are welcome here.

When we lived as exiles, refugees abroad,
Christ became our doorway to the reign of God.
So must our tables welcome those who roam.
None can be excluded; all must find a home. Text: David Bjorlin, © 2017, GIA Publications, Inc.
Used with permission.

If you have enjoyed this blog and are interested in Racial Justice, you will also enjoy our podcasts on “Sanctuary and Asylum and “Racial Justice“.

[1] https://ctbi.org.uk/racial-justice-sunday-2024/

1 thought on “Racial Justice Sunday”

  1. Thank you Tim for your reflection for Racial Justice Sunday and for explaining the difference between Exodus and Exile. I am sure God really is trying to exhort us ro welcome strangers and make them feel at home in a strange land. I will pray for all those millions of people experiencing an Exodus who are searching for a new home.

    Thank you for sharing the words of the new hymn ‘ Build a longer table, not a higher wall’. I hope to share it in worship soon.

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