Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

February 17, 2019: Being Blessed

From Paul Turley


In the last few days, the Australian government has announced that the remaining asylum seeker children and their families incarcerated in detention centres on the small island nation of Nauru will be freed from the island and resettled in the United States. While this still leaves hundreds of adult asylum seekers in legal limbo on Nauru and on Manus Island, a small island in Papua New Guinea, and, while the lives of refugees and asylum seekers continue to be used as pawns to the political fortunes of Australia’s two main political parties, this does not diminish the good news for the four children and their families who will soon finally leave detention.


While the Dutch government continues to struggle with a growing political opposition to the welcome of refugees and asylum seekers and is making it harder for asylum seekers already in the country to gain refugee status, and while many would-be refugees have had their claims for asylum rejected by the Dutch government and, unable to return to their country of origin remain in limbo, a church in the Hague has been able to make a difference for one refugee family. Invoking a medieval law that bars entry to a church by authorities while a service of worship is in progress, the congregation of the Bethel Church held a continual worship service for 96 days to protect the Tamrazyan family who fled persecution in Armenia. The Dutch government has agreed to not immediately deport the Tamrazyans and other families with roughly 700 children between them and to review their cases. While these families have not yet secured settlement in the Netherlands, they are at least protected from immediate deportation. For the church in the Netherlands, “this is just the beginning. “I hope it’s a new way of being a church — a new way of having an impact on society, a new way of standing up for vulnerable people,” said Derk Stegeman, one of the organizers of the Bethel service.


As we contemplate the sayings of Jesus that begin with “blessed are,” we can be overwhelmed with the immensity of the number of situations where blessings seem to be few. And we should be. But at the same time we can be encouraged by the blessings that are experienced by individuals and families who, in the midst of this mass upheaval of people around the globe, move a little closer to those blessings spoken of by Jesus.


Explore…Luke 6:17–26

  • What does verse 20 tell you about Jesus’ understanding of the kingdom of God that it is contrasted with poverty?
  • What do you think it means for the contemporary church to take seriously Jesus’ woes when people speaking well of us, and blessings when people “hate” us?



God of the longed-for coming new world, we know that many cry out with the words of the psalmist: “How long, O Lord, how long?” Give us strength and endurance to be faithful and hopeful as we tell the story and live the life of your new world. Amen.



96 days later, non-stop church service finally ends 

Last remaining asylum seeker children to leave island of Nauru 

Why refugees in the Netherlands fear the status quo 

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