May 192016
 

The civil war in Syria has created numerous refugees. The influx of refugees has left the nation and most of the world powerless in reaching out and helping them. Many people have taken the task to hand and started organisations to help the refugees by meeting basic needs. This week our prayer is for those who seek to help.

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Prayers for those who seek to help

Sometimes the scale of things seem so large;
Sometimes the crisis rolls in
Like wave after wave
And we feel so small:

Our resources are limited;
Choices need to be made,
Quotas are set.
The politics are complex,
Lines are drawn in the ground,
And some will win and some will lose.
Good God, it is not fair!

We pray for those agencies
Which seek to help the otherwise helpless;
For the work begun by Father Efstratios Dimou,
Papa Stratis,
And the organisation Agkalia (Embrace)
Which he founded on the island of Lesbos;

“The local people tell them to come to us for help.
We give them food, water, milk for the babies, shoes, clothes.
They can stay here too:
We have blankets, mattresses on the floor.”

We give you thanks, good and gracious God,
For the work done by the Greek people
To help the lives of others:

We give you thanks for all those churches
Which can look back in time
To when the Christian faith
Passed through Syria and present-day Turkey
And made its landfall in Europe, in Philippi:

We pray for their work in bearing witness
To Christ in troubled and perplexing times,
When Christ himself can come, incognito,
In the guise of a stranger, a refugee,
In need of God’s give of hospitality,

Amen.

Historical Background

Over the last few years Greece has been in the news on a regular basis. For some time we would here of emergency budgets, political stand-offs with the European Union, runs on the banks, protests in the streets and frequent changes of government. The reality of Greek indebtedness to German political and economic clout reminded citizens of the damages they had sustained during the Nazi invasion and occupation 70 years before. Would Greece remain within the European Union or be left to find its own way in the company of the drachma rather than the Euro? How difficult to imagine a collapsed state in the light of its classical legacy and its role of being the origins of democracy.

Now all that seems to be in the background – though Greek debt remains high and its people vulnerable. Now the focus falls, firstly, on the Greek islands. For so long they have been the destination of choice for millions of tourists and those on Aegean Sea cruises. The islands of Cos and Lesbos are among those which lie close to the Turkish mainland. They have become the much sought-after destination for refugees from Syria and further afield seeking to establish a foothold, however tenuous in Europe. To the north of the country lies the second focus – the razor wire of Macedonia which prevents refugees entry into the rest of Europe.

For Christians, of course, Greece is of some importance. The books of the New Testament were originally written in Greek. Several of Paul’s epistles were directed to churches in what we would now regard as Greek cities – Philippi, Corinth and Thessaloniki. Paul’s address to the unknown God took place in the Athenian agora or marketplace.

Our expression of faith owes much to this presently troubled country – so much so that words like church are derived from (κυριακος), kyriarkos, belonging to the Lord) and the Eucharist comes from the Greek to give thanks (εύχαριστεω),( eucharisteo).