Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

December 23, 2018: Welcoming the Goodness of God

From Paul Turley


Seven weeks ago, the faithful at Bethel Protestant Church in The Hague, Netherlands, began a worship service. And it’s still going.


The congregation is conducting the ongoing service in support of an Armenian family who face expulsion from the country by the Dutch government, even though the family had received death threats for their political activism. Even though the family have lived in the Netherlands for nine years. And even though the Dutch courts had granted them asylum status, the Dutch government appealed the ruling and won the right to expel the family.


The Bethel congregation had other ideas. They invoked a law on the books since the middle ages that forbids police from entering a church while a service of worship is in progress. So for the last almost two months the congregation has worshiped non-stop in an attempt to protect the family and force the government to change its mind.


“The Protestant Church of The Hague respects court orders, but finds itself confronted with a dilemma: the choice between respecting the Government and protecting the rights of a child,” the church said in a statement.


Last week Axel Wicke, the minister with the congregation, tweeted, “We evaluate regularly, with the team and also with the family. So far, we still receive massive support and can fill the rota pretty well. So we keep going, also because there still are many talks going on with politicians behind the curtains, some of which give reason to hope.”


One of the things that gives Wicke hope is how many Christians who wouldn’t normally meet together are willing to put aside theological differences in the greater need of this and many other families and individuals. “Here in the Netherlands, we have a huge amount of different Christian confessions, some of which originating in very ugly theological or liturgical fights. However, here at the church asylum in Bethel, none of this matters and everyone is working together. Very often, one pastor hands over the service to another colleague, with whom he would never be able to share anything else, either theologically or liturgically.”


This is one shining example of “lifting up the lowly” (Luke 1:52).


Explore… Luke 1:39–45 (46-55)

  • Why do you think Mary’s song is in the form of a psalm?
  • How would you put Mary’s phrase, “My soul magnifies the Lord,” into contemporary language?
  • What are some of the ways we can understand verse 52 today?



God of all, in this season where money and what it can buy seems to be the measure of the season, remind us that there is another economy at work in the world, an economy that values people over laws and the lowly over the powerful. Give strength to our sisters and brothers in The Hague and give us courage to do what is merciful and right. Amen.


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