I very rarely tweet about talks I’ve heard – not because they haven’t been good necessarily, but because I usually think even the better ones tend not to travel well (usually because they are well embedded into their contexts). But that’s another story. Last Sunday was different. Judge David Turner was speaking as part of All Souls’ short series on flashpoint issues in next week’s General Election. His topic was Immigration.
David has great experience and integrity, and has preached for many years at All Souls. I have gained from his teaching often. But this sermon, somehow, shone out like a beam of light into darkness – I think because he integrated his deep theological reflection, a superb grasp of the political details (as might be expected of a lawyer well used to summarising complexity well), with the experience of having to adjudicate in many asylum and immigration cases in his time.
His text? An ancient but startlingly relevant one:
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not ill-treat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
- Recognise the issue: a masterly overview of the huge, unprecedented challenges facing the UK (which no major political party denies)
- Renounce the rhetoric: essentially a right appeal for light not heat
- Remember the Bible’s story: it’s all about refugees and migrants! Jesus himself is the ultimate, divine, immigrant.
- Reflect God’s character: Love and justice together.
I was especially struck by something that came up in his closing prayer: the bible consistently calls us to love 3 types of people: neighbours, enemies, immigrants – all too often, a call more honoured in the breach perhaps…