Lection Connection

December 11, 2022: Singing a New Song

From Fraser Macnaughton


Since time immemorial, songs of protest have had a powerful effect on people, individually and collectively. Mary’s song of justice echoes an even older lament from the Hebrew scriptures. Less usual, however, is when a group does not sing and by its silence makes a statement about justice in the face of oppression. In its own way, the silence can speak loudly.

Take for example the recent decision by the team from Iran at their opening game in the 2022 soccer World Cup being held in Qatar. Prior to the match, as the Iranian national anthem played, the entire Iranian team to a man – all 11 players – stood shoulder to shoulder in silence. This was an act of solidarity against their own despotic regime and its brutal repression of its people protesting for human rights. And this was after the Iranian captain, Ehsan Hajsafi, spoke out openly at a press conference against their country’s current regime and the devastating impact it is having on the population. The Iranian captain opened his remarks by saying “In the name of the god of rainbows,” a phrase uttered by a 10-year-old boy, Kian Pirfalk, who was killed by Iranian security forces. There was also a noticeable amount of booing of the anthem amongst the large groups of Iranian fans.

The protests started after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurd who died in police custody after being arrested for not wearing the hijab in conformity with Iranian law. As many as 55 security force members have been killed. Human rights groups say more than 450 people have died.

Iran’s heavily censored media made very little mention of the team not singing the national anthem. Some closest to the regime fumed at the way in which protesters had cheered an English victory.

The Iranian team showed a scale of courage and dignity which is almost unimaginable and which may have real-life consequences for the players and their families. This is not the first time they have shown solidarity against oppression. In late September, the team opted to wear black jackets to cover the country’s colours in their match against Senegal.

However, their use of a song, in this instance their own national anthem, has generated headlines and more across the world, and has highlighted how unpopular the regime is in Iran among ordinary people.


Explore… Luke 1:47–55

  • Can you think of other examples of individual or group courage that have inspired people to follow Jesus’ values of equality and justice?
  • What examples of courage can you think of in your own community?
  • How hard is it to keep positive and to believe the reign of God will come despite what look like terribly odds.



If a teenage single mother-to-be could make a long journey not knowing what was in front of her, but trusted in her faith, then can we not, in our own circumstances, follow her example and in turn be a witness to the Christ child? Amen.


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