Throughout Holy Week, the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, Coordinator of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, is making the European path of Syrian Migration with colleagues from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the PCUSA Moderator Heath Rada. For the published version with visual media from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, click here. This post was republished with the author’s permission.
Maundy Thursday, March 24, 2016
Our final day in Hungary… spent meeting with colleagues across the Reformed Tradition who showed up to practice welcome when the crisis was at its worst last September, and have been working with refugees and asylum seekers since: Hungarian Reformed Church Aid (our hosts), Hungarian Interchurch Aid (our ACT Alliance partners), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary and the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary. They want us to know that they choose welcome, as a gospel imperative. They acknowledge and mourn the realities of xenophobia and privilege in their nation and faith communities that constrain that welcome and limit its scope — a confessional moment we, as part of the Church in the US, share wholeheartedly and with broken hearts. They looked back on the learnings of responding in the midst of an unanticipated crisis–last summer’s overwhelming numbers at the borders of all of Europe–and look forward to a coming crisis they expect to see soon, as violence in the Middle East continues to drive its citizens to flee, and last week’s decisions by the EU, to return waiting refugees to an already overwhelmed Turkey and constrain immigration into Western Europe. Many Hungarians expect a reverse flow of tens of thousands of asylum seekers to return here, to their first point of arrival and application; and they pray to have the resources and will to meet that challenge. The conversations, with partners we had never met, felt like honest communication among family members…and this was amazing grace.
This evening, our group separated, to travel separate paths to Greece: some driving through the night to visit the improvised camp now at the closed border of Macedonia, Idomeni. The remainder participated in the Maundy Thursday service at St. Columba’s here in Budapest, a church of refuge and welcome, where a few from many nations gathered at Table to bear witness to the coming passion of Jesus, and to be refreshed in the midst of the desert by bread and wine. The communion liturgy, adapted from a Scottish Church School curriculum, was particularly powerful in the midst of our conversations and journeys these days:
Lord Jesus, we pause at this Table because all the stories have been told and the words will soon run out. Promises seem so fragile now and hope seems much thinner. We cannot find the words we need, the questions are too great. All we have is silence. Yet hear, we no longer need words. The kingdom is breaking, love is choosing, the darkness is conspiring, and we find ourselves here because there is no other place to be and nothing else to say. We can only break bread and share wine and be with you tonight. So may we use the only words left, the angels’ song, that we might believe: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are filled with your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
These stories gathered here of people who met salvation in Jesus–
Where lines were crossed and rules broken,
Where there was the promise of redemption for the outcast and foreigner And inclusion for all who had been excluded–
These kingdom stories are gathered here.
When the stories are so hard and the words run out, I think about those I have met thus far along the way, and those of you at home, and this affirmation rises in my heart: Blessed are the ones who come in the name of the Lord.
From Budapest, A Reformed church greeting: Áidás, békesség– blessings and peace.
The Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, Coordinator, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
For more information on Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s response to Syria, visit: http://pda.pcusa.org/situation/syria/ The Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, Coordinator, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is traveling the path of Syrian migrants who have fled war and are seeking safety through Holy Week. As she travels with colleagues from the Presbyterian Church (USA), she is writing and reflecting about the experience. Kraus worships with Highland Presbyterian Church and her reflections are reprinted with the author’s permission.