Praying towards justice – a vigil for refugees

By Nick Coke

Last night I attended a prayer vigil for refugees, with Salvation Army colleagues from across London. It was a remarkable gathering.

Look at this photo –  what do you see?

vigil

Here’s what I see…

I see diverse people. Gathered in the courtyard of Westminster Cathedral 450 souls stand shoulder to shoulder. A snapshot of the diversity to be found in this great capital city. People of various faiths, ethnic and social backgrounds. Humanity in it all it’s jumbled, glorious, and wondrous mess. All belong, all needed.

group 2I see intentional people. This group has not gathered by chance. Neither have they been forced to attend. Look at the faces – focused, engaged and reflective. This group has chosen to be there, compelled to be present by the plight of fellow human beings suffering and fleeing hardship and violence.

I see active people. There is nothing passive about these people. They may in this moment be silent but the light in their hands scatter the darkness. They could never sit on the fence, do nothing or keep quiet for long. They are there to do something. Offers of help, pledges of support, words becoming action echo through the air.

I see prayerful people. Lament, prayer, songs of hope and defiance ebbed and flowed above the city hum. Nothing knee-jerk here but an outflow of the nurtured presence of God in the hearts of women, men and children.

I see organised people. There’s a plan here. A movement of relationship building for the common group 4good. A vision for the world as it should be and a realisation of the world as it is. This group has not yet finished its work – in fact it’s only just begun. In the words of Daniel Tomlinson: ‘Though we are different, we are decided’.

And one more photo. It’s of a Salvation Army band, committed to social justice, brought together for the occasion and reminiscent of those leading the 1885 ‘Maiden Tribute’ petition march to parliament (see Marching Towards Justice page 8). Like their forebears, this group is witnessing to Jesus Christ – Jesus the resurrected and Jesus the refugee.band

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