Following on from Homeless Sunday (28 January 2018), this Weekly Focus takes its prayer and reflection from the Dispossession Project, produced by the Mission Theology Advisory Group (MTAG), an interactive resource that explores what ‘home’ means. The charity Housing Justice, a Body in Association of CTBI, says that by all measures, homelessness in England is rapidly rising. Being homeless carries significant personal risk to individuals; on average, homeless people die at 47, far below the UK life expectancy of 81 years. A homeless rough sleeper is 35 times more likely to attempt suicide than someone who has never faced homelessness, 13 times more likely to be a victim of violent crime and 47 times more likely to be a victim of theft. In the UK, 8% of people under 25 report being homeless in the last five years.
'The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned' Maya Angelou Click To Tweet
Lord Jesus Christ,
you also slept rough
you had nowhere to call your own
you relied on the hospitality of strangers
Look now with compassion
on all those sleeping on the street,
those who wander from place to place
with bags, shopping trolleys, or just the clothes they wear.
Help us to see them as human beings,
more than beggars, more than homeless.
Help us want to know their stories
and offer them whatever they most need
for your name’s sake. Amen
Scripture teaches us a great deal about home and homelessness. At the beginning of the Bible, Adam and Eve lose their perfect home in the Garden of Eden and have to learn to live in a new, harsher place, and found a new community.
As the history of the people of Israel unfolds, so we find human beings continually being displaced and required to move on. The people of Israel believe in a home given to them by God, a beautiful land, a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’ (Exodus 3.8) which is theirs forever. Yet the occupation of this land and ‘rights’ over it cause nothing but difficulty, and today the same problems of a land to call home tear apart the people of Israel and Palestine as well as other parts of the Middle East, and many other countries where indigenous people have been displaced by settlers and colonists. The Bible is full of natural disasters, war, captivity, wandering and exile. And while in exile, the people of Israel, a displaced people, mourn for their home. In that mourning, we hear the pain of all who are displaced and homeless: refugees, migrants, evicted people, divorced people, rough sleepers, runaways, people who have lost their dreams of finding or coming home – and don’t know why.