Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Time to Remember

Many thanks for all the help on events over the last month. The McMillan day was well supported with over £400 raised. Having church open all day with a series of services at each time worked well and there has been a lot of positive feedback. The day was a great community event and i think it would be good to do it again.

Great fun was had by all at the Harvest sing alonga! The campaign for Water Aid was well received and we raised a lot of money. I learned a lot about water poverty and it's effects. I have become convinced that sorting out water poverty would also sort out many of the worlds problems. It should be a priority of individuals and governments.

As October gives way to November, we approach a time of remembering and honouring the sacrifice of our armed forces, see elsewhere in the magazine for times of services. We also remember those we were close to and who have died at our memorial service at 6pm on the Saturday 2nd November in Wadworth church.

During November we also remember Christians in trouble, and this year we focus especially on Syria. There have been Christians in Syria for nearly 2,000 years. The apostle Paul, famously, was converted on the outskirts of Damascus. In Antioch – then capital of the province that the Romans termed ‘Syria’ – followers of Jesus were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). Many of the practices that we, as Christians, take for granted actually originate in Syria. The first Christian discipleship manual was written in Antioch. The earliest known church building is there. And the roots of our worship songs, ancient church music, began there.

In Aleppo some churches still sing their liturgy in Aramaic – the language spoken by Jesus.
This is a church with deep roots. And historically, because of its stability, Syria has been
a place of refuge. Recently, the country has provided shelter for Christians from elsewhere
in the Middle East:
Armenians escaping the genocide of 1915;
Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, driven out in 1948;
Orthodox Christians and Maronites fleeing sectarian violence in Lebanon during the 1970s and 80s.
And most recently, Iraqis: an estimated 2 million entered Syria between 2006 and 2009.
But now that ancient church is in danger of being expelled.

There is compelling evidence that Syrian Christians are suffering disproportionately and, in many cases, being targeted because of their faith.

A refugee said, “We are hostages of the growing Islamism while the rest of the world either watches and turns the other cheek. Just being Christian is enough to be a target.”

It is, of course, not a uniform picture. The situation differs from place to place and region
to region. But many Islamists are convinced that Christians are supporters of the Assad regime. In fact, most Christians want to stay out of the conflict and have no wish to take sides, but as a result they find themselves trapped in the middle.

“The longer the war goes on, the worse the situation becomes,” explains one of the Syrian Vicars. “We Christians are seen as pro- government. We as Christians tell everybody that we are not a political entity, we focus on our spiritual mission, we are on no side in the battle.”

The Christian community in Syria is increasingly being forced to choose between abandoning their homes or fighting for survival – and fighting for survival almost inevitably means taking sides.

I would be great full if you could contribute by signing a petition to draw attention to the plight of Syrian Christians and join us for prayer meetings.