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13 March 2016
posted by Canon Dakin on 14-03-2016

5th Sunday of Lent

The line in today’s reading which stands outfor me is St Paul’s remark: “All I want to know is Christ and the power of his resurrection”. This is a necessary follow up to the words in the opening prayer that Christ died for our salvation. Our attention traditionally is centred on the cross. You enter a church and the dominant image is always the crucifix with the Stations of the Cross round the walls.There are some churches now in which a fifteenth station is added representing Our Lord rising from the tomb. We say that he died for our sins. If he had left it at that we should be in limbo. Heaven becomes our home through the power of his resurrection. On Easter night we shall celebrate our baptism. When we were baptised we passed through Christ’s tomb and rose with him to a new life - the life that began for him on Easter Day - the life which is his in the presence of the Father - the life which is ours now. That is the paschal mystery - the mystery of our passing from a purely natural existence to sharingthe life of God himself. It is this elevation to a new level of being which is the basis of human dignity and which requires respect and reverence for every single person.  You must have seen on your TV screens the heart-rending pictures of little refugee children stranded in a sea of mud before the barred gates of Macedonia. The reverence and care due to these people by the international community is totally lacking. They are lumped together by the media as migrants with a hint that they simply want to hatch on to the benefits of a relatively affluent society. This may be true of a few but not of the many.  It is admittedin the case of the Syrians that they are genuine refugees. To restrict admission to Syrians only would be unjust to so manymore. There are Christians fleeing from persecution. There was a man from Nigeria interviewed by a reporter. He was stuck on the Macedonian border withhis wife and children.  As a Christian in Northern Nigeria life is dangerous.  Muslim extremists have attacked 200 churches killing over 1000 Christians. Those who have the courage and the means are moving out to find safety abroad. Simply to close our eyes to their situation and plan to turn them back fails to do them justice and dodges our responsibilityboth as fellow Christians and human beings. Researchers tell us that 2015 wasthe worst year in modern history for Christian persecution. You would neverguess from watching news bulletins or reading most newspapers. That is because there is no great tide of persecution in one particular spot but continuous incidents in more than fifty countries. Ten days ago in Yemen four of Mother Teresa’s nuns running a nursing home in the poorest district of Aden were handcuffed and shot dead and thirteen of their assistants were killed by militants belonging to al-Qaedaor ISIS.  Did you hear of it? That is why so many of the refugees trying to get into Europe are Christians,  not attempting to plug into our benefit system but  simply to keep theirchildren safe whilst professing their faith. There may seem at the momentlittle that we can do but we are able to express in prayer our solidarity with persecuted Christians and so help to sustain them in their courage and fidelity. That will be the purpose of the Stations of the Cross, at St John’s, Poulton at 7.00 on Friday organised by Aid to the Church in Need

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