Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

March 22, 2020: I Am Because We Are

From Fraser Macnaughton

Ever since prehistoric hunters had to work together in order to survive, people have had to learn how to share both the workload and the harvest, and the problems and the joys. Through the centuries, traditions have formed and complexities have grown. But the health of all community depends on how we treat each other.

Ubuntu literally means a person is a person through other persons. This heartfelt tradition concentrates on the irrevocable connectedness that exists between people. Based on this fundamental commitment to human kinship, there is no word for orphan in the African continent, because each tribe automatically assumes a lost child as part of its larger family.

Contrast that with the reality of many refugee families now amassed on Turkey’s border with Greece, the entry point into Europe. As the civil war in Syria reaches its denouement, the flow of refugees only increases. As Turkey struggles with the sheer weight of numbers, it was decided to open its border with Greece to ease the pressure. However, the European Union, which for the past four years has had an informal agreement with Turkey’s government not to allow refugees to cross into Greece in return for large cash payments, has been caught on the hop.

Many people caught up in the border bombings along the Syrian frontier were taking their chance to leave. “We heard that the border was open and we came,” says Adnan Mosuli, the 22-year-old head of one family from Raqqa, who arrived at Doryan with his father and siblings. “It took us two days and $4,500 to get across the border.”

Families from much further afield were also desperate. “We heard that the gates of Europe are open,” said one family leader from a large group displaced from Afghanistan.

Some made it across to the Greek side only to be caught by soldiers, their belongings and sometimes even their clothes confiscated, detained and then sent back to Turkey in flimsy boats. Journalists have now been banned from the main overland crossing point at Pazarkule.

The desperation of their flight is best summed up by the not unreasonable dream of Reza Dowlati: “The reason we are here is for the children. It’s all so they can have a better life. I want to go to a more intellectual society. In the name of religion or faith, or in the name of ethnicity and tribe, they cut each other’s heads off. I want to go to Europe because there will be a little more security and a place where my children can study.”

Explore…John 9:1–41

  • What do you make of the deeply spiritual aspect of the concept of “Ubuntu”?
  • How does your faith community keep itself informed about the plight of displaced people around the world?
  • In what ways do you think your faith community can reach out to the community in which it is set to practice the principle of Ubuntu?

Jesus prayed that we might all be one in him – Ubuntu at its most profound level.
May we strive to do what we can in our own community to keep that dream alive
and to lead all people to that place where they might have “life in all its fullness.”

Learn more…
Refugees stranded at Europe’s border


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