I concluded a sermon I preached yesterday at St. Alban’s Church by drawing an association between two images: Michelangelo’s Pieta housed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and the image of Aylan Kurdi cradled in a Policeman’s arms. An article in The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/sep/04/aylan-kurdi-migrant-mother-shots-that-shook-the-world) stated that while stories of refugees drowning at sea have been a staple of news reporting this summer the image of Aylan shocked the U.K. into action (in the same way that other images have changed the course of world events).
The association that I made in the sermon was born out of pondering the Gospel lesson for the day (Mark 9.30-37), a pericope which includes Jesus’ prediction of his death and resurrection followed by Jesus telling his disciples (likely in Peter’s house) “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and not just me but the one who sent me (God). In the sermon I tried to say that the Christian church was born out of suffering in Jesus’ day just as it is in ours, and that the response to the refugee crisis in one country in particular – Germany – has been overwhelming, including 780 families that through a website called Fluchtlinge Willkommen (Welcome Refugees) have signed up to open their homes to refugees. Aylan Kurdi is now cradled in the loving arms of the one, holy and living God. And out of Aylan’s suffering there are now 780 new churches in Germany.
“Whoever welcomes one such child in my arms welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not just me but also God…” Fluchtlinge Willkommen.