The Problem with Insulation
This winter many of us are planning to wear more clothes inside as the weather gets colder, and if we are lucky enough to live in a house, it's a good idea to insulate the loft as well. But should we insulate our lives? Should we shut out those whose lives make us uncomfortable and perhaps make us feel guilty? The rough sleepers in the churchyard. The refugees staying in St Albans hotels. People whose homes are cold and who are looking for warmth in our church.
We can always find reasons for stepping away – insulating ourselves by surrounding ourselves with like-minded people whose lives are like our own. “It’s risky to get close to him”, “If we give money, who knows what it’ll be spent on”, “I can’t take on someone else’s problems”. “I’m just too busy”. Often there will be some substance in our reasons for stepping away. But if our lives are completely insulated – so lagged with stranger repelling protection that no-one unlike us can ever get through, how can we fully live out the Christian life that we seek? For our differences are tiny in comparison with our similarities as people made in the image of God: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) And we do have particular responsibilities towards the marginalised and refugees (see, for instance, Deuteronomy 27: 19 referring to “the alien, the orphan and the widow”).
So as we pray for those who are marginalised, let’s also pray for our own response.
Lord God, You came to give honour to the least,
those forgotten, overlooked and misjudged.
You came to give first place to the last, those left behind,
misunderstood and undervalued.
You came to give a warm welcome to the lost, those who are orphaned,
abandoned and destitute.
Help us to be your ears to listen to their cries.
Help us to be your voice speaking out love and acceptance.
Help us to be your feet walking beside those in need.
Help us to be your hands to clothe, feed and shelter them.
You came for the least, the lost and last of this world.
Lord, hear our prayer.
(a contemporary prayer for the poor and vulnerable from here.)