Spirit Sightings

August 30, 2015: Be Love


From Fraser Macnaughton

Songs of Praise is an iconic British television institution that has been running for over 50 years. It is one of the few remaining UK TV programs with specific Christian content. Now the BBC has decided to broadcast an edition of Songs of Praisefeaturing a segment from a migrant camp in Calais, amid a crisis in whichat least nine people have diedsince June while attempting to cross from France into England.

The camp and the desperate attempts of its inhabitants to use the Channel Tunnel to enter the UK have become symptomatic of a growing crisis in Europe. Thousands of refugees from Syria and Iraq, coupled with many more from Libya, Darfur, Somalia and other strife-torn areas, are poised on the borders of Europe seeking a safe haven and a new life.

Some segments of the UK press have been hysterical in their reaction and the news that Songs of Praise is to feature this camp is causing a degree of apoplexy. Right-wing politicians and journalists are calling this a waste of tax payers’ money (the BBC is a public service broadcaster) and an overtly political manipulation of the program. Social media was awash with fury, with one licence fee payer saying it was “the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in ages. The BBC has lost the plot altogether.”

Meanwhile, the film crew and presenter Sally Magnusson were given a hero’s welcome by the camp occupants. They were shown makeshift buildings made from corrugated iron and canvas, which have been designated as churches. Small worship stations and altars are dotted about. A former canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, Rev Giles Fraser, is also involved in the program. He said, “They are not illegal immigrants yet. I have no problem with the BBC filming Songs of Praise here.” He added that the camp’s church was “the real thing.”

A BBC spokesman added, “Church leaders from the Pope to the Archbishop of Canterbury have spoken out about the human response to migration and asylum which is a subject of interest to churchgoers up and down the country.”

Explore…James 1:17–27

  • If we are being called to be sources of God’s love for others, what other ways can you think of to use media as a way of highlighting the plight of the poor and the oppressed?
  • How do you react to accusations that the church or Christians should not get involved in politics?
  • Are there ways you can think of that could involve your faith community in showing Christ’s love?
  • Do you think there are circumstances where it is possible to separate Christian practices of love from political or social realities?

Prayer links…

May our actions be our prayer, as we seek ways to demonstrate the love of Christ, not just among our own friends and fellow religionists, but also among “the least of these” to whom Christ calls us to serve. Amen.

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