Today, as we were preparing for morning worship, we read another heart-breaking article about the heart of Europe’s nations towards refugees. It brought tears in preparation and tears in prayer. Here are a few of our thoughts and prayers in response.
History keeps invading our prayers for the now at the moment. And today it was the same.
As we cried out to God for Denmark – and Europe – to have softened hearts of mercy and welcome, our prayers were full of stories from the past, calling out to us to have courage in the present.
There was the story – shared by one of our pray-ers – about Denmark’s incredible rescue of Jewish people in 1943 when its Nazi occupiers sought to round them up. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the resistance movement and ordinary Danish people, more than 99% of Danish Jews survived the holocaust. How? Through an incredible rescue plan that got them to boats, a journey across the sea to Sweden, and a unilateral welcome from a neutral nation.
What did the rescuers risk because of their believe in the sanctity of each individual life? Everything.
What difference did it make? All the difference.
Thousands of lives were not sent to the death camps. And to this day, Denmark is honoured at holocaust memorials as ‘a righteous nation’.
And then another story – shared by another pray-er – about a friend she was going on from our prayer time to meet… whose mother told her only very recently how she had left Eastern Europe as a girl of 14 with her family and spent two years travelling to the UK to be welcomed – initially in a refugee camp – and then as a full citizen.
What was the horror of the fear that led her to flee, and the journey itself, that this mother has only now told her daughter that it even happened?
What would have happened to her if she hadn’t been welcomed? Would our pray-ers precious friend even have been born?
A prayer for Denmark and Europe to remember their greatest stories
Oh God, have mercy on our unmerciful hearts,
grown calloused and hard with forgetfulness
that no longer seem to remember the value of a life
or how much we still admire the best of us
when their heroism saves even just one.
When did we forget that each one represents the greatest treasure of all?
Remind us please Lord that the greatest moments in our past
were not victories, empires or full, prosperous bank accounts,
but those times we surrendered our comfort
to save the lives of those with nothing but danger at their backs
and when we didn’t turn ours to send them packing
to worse than we wouldn’t even let ourselves imagine.
Oh God, today is a day for remembering inspiring stories of life
and prizing them above rational protectionism and balance sheets.
It’s a day we urgently need you to stir up in us
the memory of what we have always known
and bring us to our knees in repentant, dependent surrender
that finally recognises we will never find the right solution from the wrong heart.
Please Lord, today – on this day you have made –
give us another reason to rejoice.
Let our mourning turn to shouts of joy
as we witness governments, media and ordinary people
listen to history and say yes to your strong Spirit in the now
to speak what seems the bravest word of all: