As delivered at BBC Radio Bristol this morning. I prepared this thought when the Breakfast Show was having the Bristol Refugee Festival as its lead story. As it happened it got bumped in favour of the news that Broadchurch III is filming in Clevedon. I had to add in a bit of last minute explanation:
The Bristol Refugee Festival starts today.
I loved the Tom Hanks' film The Terminal. He plays Viktor who finds himself unable to enter the United States due to inadequate documentation. But because of a military coup he cannot return home. The movie follows him working out how to live and survive at the airport terminal where he becomes a minor celebrity, and improves life there.
Our hearts have been tugged on many occasions over the last few years at stories of migrants and refugees. Their home situation too terrible to stay but leaving without any definite plans for an eventual home. Staying worse than a long trip in a leaky boat.
When someone says 'Fire, get out' one doesn't necessarily carefully plan where to spend the next night. If you don't get out you may not have any further nights to spend.
The Bible is full of stories of refugees - Moses leading his people for 40 years in the wilderness, Joseph's family fleeing to Egypt to avoid famine, Jesus' and his parents escaping Herod.
Down the ages people-movements have been a key feature of life on Earth. But with borders more and more settled over the years it is tempting to shut the doors to newcomers.
The biblical concept of hospitality is to receive from the stranger by removing the barrier of hunger or cold. I offer food and shelter so I can hear your story and be blessed by your life.
The Bristol Refugee Festival celebrates the contribution of refugees.
After Jesus' death and, we believe, his resurrection, it was Christians escaping persecution who took that message to other countries. It might have been an initial burden to those who welcomed them; but then they discovered the treasure they carried.