We’ve been asking for a lot this week.
Sometimes when you ask for what you really want you get it.
A clever promotion from a US airline illustrates the point.
Each year our Care & Concern committee hosts a morning tea to thank those who attend our Coffee & Craft mornings, along with an extended group who don’t come along on Wednesday mornings by who make various contributions of knitted items, Christmas boxes, and finances throughout the year.
All of the items produced are given away in our local community, along with the Women’s And Children’s Hospital in Adelaide and APWM in Sydney.
We’re encouraged by such practical generosity, and hope that the people who receive these gifts gain some insight into God’s care and love.
With less than two months to go until Christmas the Australian Presbyterian World Mission have released their Christmas gift catalogue.
If your Presbyterian Church isn’t publicising this tell them about it and ask for it to be made available.
For the full size brochure with all details go to the page at APWM or click on the image to go there.
Published in The Border Watch, our local paper, today.
Establishing a profile on Twitter involves providing a few short summary statements about yourself. Follower of Jesus. Coffee lover. Father of five. Blogger. That sort of thing.
These statements, or self-imposed labels, are meant to serve as gateways for people with common interests to get in contact with each other and enjoy our mutual pursuits.
Labels can be helpful if they serve a positive purpose.
But labels can also be unhelpful if they serve to create barriers.
Sometimes a different label can make all the difference.
Consider the label ‘asylum seeker’ and then compare it with the label ‘illegal arrival’.
One label gives the impression of someone who needs help, while the other portrays someone seeking something by illegitimate means.
Oddly enough, in Australia, a struggle continues to apply one of these labels to those claiming to be refugees, but who arrive by boat.
The reasons for wanting to portray the arrival of refugees by boat as illegal seem to be numerous.
Some object to refugees crossing our borders without our knowledge. Australia, however, agrees with the UN Convention on Refugees that supports the right of those seeking refuge to cross national borders. Many lives would have been saved during the 2nd World War if this provision had been in place at that time.
Others believe that since these folk have the means to pay others to bring them to our shores that they can’t truly be refugees. This ignores the historical reality of persecution among the middle or educated classes. Whether in Europe, Africa or Asia despots have eradicated middle classes. Having some means is not the same as having security.
There are those who think that those who arrive directly disadvantage others who are waiting for repatriation from offshore processing. That perception is because our international obligation to receive onshore arrivals has been numerically linked to the humanitarian intake of displaced peoples from offshore locations into a single quota. Doing so confuses charitable action with legal obligation and stigmatizes onshore arrivals.
Finally, most are agreed that the very dangerous means of their arrival by boat should not be encouraged. And yet, it seems that aware of the dangers, people still keep coming.
Why? Would the mere hope of a better life make that sacrifice and risk worthwhile? I wonder.
But what about life itself? What if I were convinced that the only hope of survival that I and my loved ones had was to sacrifice all and make a dangerous journey through uncertain places to a destination of refuge? For me, that comes a lot closer to explaining it.
That so many of those claiming asylum are recognised as valid and granted it underlines the desperate situations from which these folk are fleeing.
They deserve better than to have their impulse for the preservation of themselves and those they love treated as if it was self-seeking or illegitimate.
Throughout history, those who have responded to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and those societies that have been shaped by Christian principles have valued caring for those whose needs are greatest and who are unable to care for themselves. The nations of the west recognised that during World War 2 there was a very great failure and sought to rectify it through modern refugee law. Australia and Australians should not seek to erode that commitment by using unhelpful labels and policies to marginalise those who turn to us for help.
During the report of the Presbyterian Inland Mission at the 2013 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia mention was made of the book Views Beyond The Furthest Fence, a pictorial history of 100 years of ministry in the outback. With an illuminating text by Stuart Bonnington, the feature of this coffee-table book are the historical and contemporary photographs collated by Stephen Dyer (who took most of the contemporary images himself).
Mention was made during debate at GAA that this book should be on display in the home of every Presbyterian pastor in the nation (by Graham Nicholson, I believe).
Well, it seems someone took his words to heart because yesterday a copy of the book arrived by parcel post here at home.
No note, no invoice, just the book.
So, thanks generous mystery giver.
The culmination of another twelve months of work came to fruition this morning when 172 Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Boxes were sent off to our local collation centre before being sent on to Adelaide, where they will then depart for various international destinations.
A big thank you to our Care & Concern / Coffee & Craft Group who coordinate this very special activity.