Saturday, 5 September 2015

Hard hearts

I could have cried yesterday when I went to the Worship Lunch at the chapel. I never actually participate in eating with the ladies as they always have soup and bread, then pudding and custard, and I prepare the food, serve it and wash up, since I can't eat any of the food.......but I always say the grace before they eat.

Yesterday I thanked God for food, fellowship and friends, as I usually do, but then I asked them to think of others, of families desperate to reach safety and of children washed up on foreign shores. 

I said the "Amen" and walked back into the kitchen.  I could overhear the conversation at the table, and the eight older ladies were using words which really broke my heart there: "too many foreigners here already", Enoch Powell was mentioned in a favourable light, and the conversation went on for a little while about how immigrants would take "our" jobs and benefits.

I was angry and did not know how to respond, and remembered that I was in church.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that we have generations of British people who just don't consider what kind of a nation we are - we've been having other folks come here for hundreds of years, from the Romans, the Vikings and the Saxons for example, right through to people from former Empire countries and EU member states. 

There is a huge difference as well between an immigrant, who comes to seek a better kind of a life, and a refugee, who comes seeking Life itself.  

And every one of the refugees who comes seeking Life should be given a chance to have it, not to lose it in a boat in the Mediterranean or in the back of a lorry in Austria. These are not people looking to be able to claim benefits and an easier life - these are human beings, like us, with families and friends and life stories, who are looking for a way to just stay alive.

Seems to me that as much as we need to pray for people who are seeking life, we need to pray for attitudes to change across the world. 


Frugally challenged said...

Amen to that.

Scarlet said...

I just wondered, as you were in church, if the people who were saying such vile and ignorant things identify themselves as Christians. If so, and there is a repeat of this,perhaps you could remind them of the teachings they purport to believe in.
Your words may fall on deaf ears though, because it appears that they don't even understand basic humanity, let alone religious teachings.

Morgan said...

@Scarlet - no, I doubt that many of those women would identify themselves as Christians. Only one of them actually attends the church worship, and the rest are ladies who come to the craft group and then stay on to share lunch once a month. It is meant to be a Worship lunch, so I always say Grace. I shall continue to add prayers like this to the Grace, and I shall persist. There is an attitude amongst older people, I am finding, which is patronising towards people my age, that they know better, for example. It is hard.

Frances Hyde said...

Maybe next time, in place of the grace, you could read them the parable of the Good Samaritan. I have been pondering that parable quite a lot over the past few weeks, as well as contemplating the idea of "entertaining angels unawares".

As an aside - if it is a fellowship meal, wouldn't it be possible for there to be some food that you also can eat? I am no longer in a position where I can attend fellowship lunches (I tend to be at work) but when I did we always had at least something for everyone.

Angela said...

Keep up the good work - we are praying for you! I too have experienced encounters with members of the Enoch-Powell-Fan-Club. I am old enough to remember him making the'rivers of blood speech' [and the anger amongst family members] and yet I too get patronised by some older people too.

We are incredibly busy this week at church with a special Week of Prayer [just recovering from the all-nighter, for which I prepared the breakfast this morning!!] I was pleased by how many folk DID pray for the refugees.

Just been preparing my blogpost for tomorrow morning on the subject...

I think what frustrates me most is not the comments of 'uncommitted' folk [the ones who come for the OAP lunch, or queue behind me in the shop] but those of people who are there in the pew every Sunday. Have they not been listening all these years? Do they just think that this Good Samaritan attitude is only for the Pastor, and that nice young woman who does lay preaching sometimes? I so want to be gracious, but my togue is sore and I cannot bite it any longer!!

have a blessed weekend x

Regena Fickes said...

I have been praying for an opening of hearts and minds on this very thing. Mine also needs expanding until I feel I have the Heart He wants me to have. You are not alone in this. I am sure if one of these ladies could actually look into the eyes of one of these desperate people, they would see the eyes of a loved one. God bless you and I will continue to agree in prayer with you.

Jackie said...

"Long ago, people in England sent their children by train with labels around their necks, so they could be taken care of by complete strangers in the country side where it was safe. They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers." Aunt Lucy - Paddington Bear.

How quickly we forget. Yet I bet they'll all be 'Lest We Forget'-ing in two months time. But they've already forgotten.

Allowing children to die, like rats at sea? Whose side were they on, anyway?

(sorry, it makes me angry too.)

Morgan said...

@Jackie - I saw that quotation on FB and it was very apt. I remember my mum saying when the Ethiopian famine crisis hit years ago that she wished the children could come over here so she could feed them - she had a heart for everyone. And yes, you are very right - they will be honouring the dead in November [and rightly so] but these same people need to spare a few more thoughts and a lot more grace for the living.

Thank you all for your comments. I was sure that I would not be alone in these feelings nor, sadly, in this experience, and I am glad to hear from you all. Every blessing to you all in your prayers and your own work.

@Frances - yes, I used to take my own lunch along too, but actually, it suits me to get on with the work and eat at home later. I may have to change my practice soon and actually sit down and chat with these ladies if I want to have any prayerful chance to change their thoughts, so perhaps I should consider it more. Thanks.

Frances Hyde said...

You may be right, Morgan, about taking the opportunity to sit with them and talk with them. But I think I was more pondering on their selfishness. They don't want to let "outsiders" spoil their lifestyle. They are not interested in sharing food that everyone can eat. I used to be a protestant minister's wife in a small country town where the catholic priest was a vegetarian and allergic to alliums and peas. When we had ecumenical fellowship meals everyone at least tried to provide something that he could eat. I have to say that they found this difficult but they tried. At no point did they take the attitude that he should just not eat. I know I don't know your ladies or why they do what they do - but they seem quite self absorbed to me. You matter too!

Morgan said...

@Frances - you are kind but I'm actually one of the people who provides the food for the others. Since there is no real kitchen at the chapel, we have to have cup-a-soups which we can make with just the kettle, and they have bread and cheese with that. Then they usually have little fruit pies with custard - again from a sachet so that I can just make it with hot water. It's quite basic. We have had a lady who lives nearby and will let us cook 15 or so baked potatoes in her oven and I do join in when we have those, but that is usually perhaps only once or twice a year - and that lady is moving away so I not sure that that can continue. Since the food is all donated by myself and another lady, it has to be relatively cheap and the food that I can eat tends to be more expensive so I do not want to provide enough of it for up to 15 people - which sounds mean, but being wheat and dairy free isn't an easy thing. I do appreciate your comment and the thought behind it - bless you for thinking of me xxx

Sandra Ann said...

Yes you are right, those seeking asylum are very different from those seeking a better life. Your prayers and saying a grace of thanksgiving done with regularity might just make them eventually stop and think. I find it incredulous that folk can be so hard hearted.

I know you have been very busy but did you get my email? I sent it from my phone and I'm wondering if it got lost in cyber space!!

Morgan said...

@San - I have now! Thanks xx

Kim @ Him, Him Me said...

Morgan, perhaps you could remind those ladies, that Jesus and His parents were also refugees when they fled to Egypt with what only they could carry.