24th June 2022

The Old Testament reading last Sunday was from Isaiah chapter 65. These final chapters of Isaiah are God’s words of hope to a refugee nation looking forward to a return to their own land. The chapter continues, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind… no more shall be heard in [the city] the sound of weeping and the cry of distress… They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit” (Isaiah 65:17–21, ESV).

Being forced out of your home to live as a foreigner in a strange land is one of the most common themes in the Bible. Think of Joseph and his eleven brothers in Egypt; Moses and the Israelites fleeing Egypt four hundred years later to wander through the desert; the displacement of the Israelites from the Promised Land into exile in Assyria and Babylon; Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus taking refuge in Egypt; the first Christians scattering across the Middle East as persecution drove them out of their communities…

It seems that some in Britain today do not want to welcome the foreigner or refugee. But as for us, may we stand with those who have fled their homes to seek safe refuge. May we build on our friendship with the First Baptist Church of Wroclaw in Poland, as they find themselves on the front-line of the Ukrainian war relief effort. May we be sensitive to the needs of foreigners in our own “City of Refuge”. May we share our hope of the coming of a new heaven and a new earth.

Ian Waddington