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Rector's View - September 2016

Dear friends,

Many at this time are returning from holidays afar, and I'm reminded of the return of pilgrims in times past from their great walks across Europe to her Holy sites, from our own Bury St Edmund's Abbey to Spain's Santiago de Compostela or further still to the Holy Land. These returning pilgrims had a great influence on local provision for the needy, the sick and poor, for they themselves had received care in the pilgrim hospitals along the way and so sought to provide the same amongst their own villages and towns.

Whilst the media at this time focuses on the stories of success in sports great Olympic pilgrimage and no doubt our returning athletes will be encouraging greater participation in sports and outdoor pursuits, those returning from holidays in Europe will be reminded of the ongoing plight of displaced persons, migrant and refugee. A cursory glance at the internet reveals some truly alarming statistics on today's Exodus. There are estimated to be 60 million displaced persons globally, 18 million in Africa, one million crossing to Europe in 2015. These bleak statistics underscore the tragic extent of human suffering and loss, and whilst it is difficult to assess how many deaths are mourned among those fleeing poverty oppression and war, some 4,000 migrants drowned in their escape crossing the Aegean and Mediterranean in 2015. Of the one million applications for asylum to Europe in 2015, just short of 300,000 applications were approved, these refugees have fled from Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. The top ten countries of migrant origin, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Albania, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Iran, Ukraine, underline the global scale of displaced persons today.

The fearful reaction of nations seeing so many entering or held at their borders reminds me of the biblical story of King Balak of Moab who beheld the Exodus horde, the migrant nation Israel encamped on the plains of Moab. Three times, again and again, he called on God's prophet Balaam to curse a people not reckoned among the nations. Balaam saw as God's vision, only the dispossessed persecuted and poor, and the prophet spoke truth, that these same are those blessed of God's Kingdom. To raise fear and curse against today's displaced peoples is only to compound the tragedy of their flight. Pray their blessing may raise up leaders among the nations who will shorten their trial and return their homelands to lands of peace and justice. If we of Europe are able to offer sanctuary, they will surely reward both our lands and theirs with the fruit of their labours in the hope of peace security and justice.

Yours in Christ

Rev'd Brin Singleton
Rector

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Last Modified Friday 09 September 2016