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May 2019

This month’s message comes from Anne Futcher

I’m writing this having just returned from a flying visit to Cyprus. I was there for a forum, convened by the Anglican Church, which focussed on refugees and people who are trafficked.  The day was an introduction to my ministry there from September, which will include responsibility for co-ordinating the Diocese’s response to refugees on the island.

At the forum, there were representatives from various secular and religious organisations, both from the north and the south of the divided island.  As each stood to speak, I was struck by their shared energy, passion and commitment. And this was in the light of a refugee situation that must have felt overwhelming. For in 2018, Cyprus exceeded every other EU member state in asylum claims, mainly from people fleeing Syria.

Stories were told from different perspectives, and many were very moving.  They spoke of large numbers of people dislocated and traumatised; of the daily challenges faced by strangers in a strange land. 

As the day went on, it seemed to me that the work of every group, whether secular or religious, was underpinned by pretty much the same three messages: ‘We stand with you.’  You have worth.’ ‘Things can be different’.

Messages of solidarity and of hope and dignity; messages we would all want to hear in times of very real need, wherever, and whoever, we are.

And these three messages resonate absolutely with the Christian faith. Throughout his life on earth Jesus bestowed time and attentiveness on those whom his society deemed insignificant – women, foreigners, the poor, the maimed, and those who were unwell, either mentally or physically.  His very presence signified to each of them: ‘I am with you’;  ‘you have worth’; ‘things can be different’.  Through an encounter with him, their lives were transformed.  And those who later met the risen Christ – the disciples, the soldiers, the two Marys – experienced profound change too.  Their confusion, shame and fear dissipated.  And Jesus bestowed on them, through his attentive love, a sense of worth and hope and dignity.

Our world today is every bit as wounded and wounding as it was in Jesus’ time.  And it’s every bit as wonderful, too.  For within each of us lies the potential to bring new life and possibility to another.  Every act of compassion, every good deed, every fair and honest act of business, every kind word, really matters.  Each act says to another person: ‘you are cherished’, ‘you have worth’; ‘things can change’.  Each of us, wherever and whoever we are, can make a much greater difference to someone else than we might ever have imagined.

Over the past few years, I have been so touched by the care and warmth in this community. It’s been a privilege being here.  Thank you.  I look forward to my work in Cyprus hugely and I take with me precious memories.

God bless you

Anne

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