Category Archives: Politics

Exodus and EU referendum in conversation (or, ‘Being read by our Bibles’)

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“When we let the story of the Exodus read us, we realise to our horror and dismay that in this story we’re not the innocent Hebrews. We’re the Egyptians.

Notice what Pharaoh says in Exodus 1: ‘Look,’ he says. ‘Egypt is crawling with immigrants. There’s too many of them. If we’re not careful they’ll outnumber us. They’re un-Egyptian. They have too many children. They’re at fault for everything that’s wrong around here.’ That’s the kind of thing we say.

Pharaoh believes he’s rich and powerful because he worked hard, and he thinks, ‘I’m not going to let the weak, the immigrant, or the underclass take away my entitlement.’ That’s the kind of thing we think.

Pharaoh makes up a story, a story of fear and mistrust and suspicion. He says, ‘They might outnumber us; there may be a war; they might fight against us with our enemies…’ That’s the kind of story we make up, and then we run to politicians who stoke our fears and play on our mistrust.

BUT here’s the surprising good news. Egyptians we are, but there’s more than one way of being Egyptian………”

(From Sam Wells: Learning to Dream Again; Rediscovering the Heart of God)

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Leeds People Pilgrimage

Globally millions are taking to the streets to stand up for climate justice on the eve of the COP21 Paris climate change talks.

On Saturday 28th November the Leeds Peoples’ Pilgrimage is happening in Leeds. Groups of people are walking together from different areas of Leeds to meet for a service at Leeds Minster and then joining the Climate March and Rally.

There are groups walking from Kirkstall BridgePark Halt on the Middleton RailwayTemple Newsam and Meanwood Park

Peoples Pilgrimage Flyer Nov 2015

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Waterside Court Protest

Today saw the Friends of Raja and Mahmoud (#foram) protesting outside the Waterside Court Immigration Centre where the UK Border Agency’s Leeds office is situated. About 150 people came along to protest against the forced removal of Raja and Mahmoud.

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A huge thank you to all who came to speak out in support of Raja and Mahmoud.

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Stop the deportation of Raja and Mahmoud

Raja Khouja, a women’s rights campaigner from Syria, is detained at Yarls Wood and threatened with removal to Saudi Arabia on Thursday 25th June 2015.

Raja and Mahmoud

Raja (56) is a member of the Syrian Republican Party and was involved in human rights activism on the internet, focused on the wider Arab world. She has written many times about her views on the denial of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Mutawa (the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice) has denounced her and she has received email and phone call threats of death, imprisonment and mutilation including for ‘the opposite limbs to be cut off the body’ were she ever to go to Saudi Arabia, the very country to which she is to be removed.

Raja is a Syrian national who has been living in Leeds with her Saudi husband Mahmoud Alhassan (67) for four years. They were stranded in the UK by the emergency in Syria. They are much loved and respected by her community of friends here in Leeds and we are gravely concerned for her safety were she to be removed to Saudi Arabia.

Raja and Mahmoud’s application for asylum has not yet been fully considered. Despite this the Home Office plans to remove them imminently to Saudi Arabia on Qatar Airlines, where Raja will be in extreme danger.

Raja and Mahmoud are great friends of All Hallows and we have grown to know and love them over the last few years.

Please show your support for Raja and Mahmoud by adding your name to this petition, and joining the campaign to stop the forced removal of our friends.


Write to Theresa May
write

If you have signed the petition to Theresa May on Change.org  why not email or write to her in person as well? You can use this template letter to get you started, but feel free to customise it!


Contact Qatar Airways

qatar

Raja and Mahmoud are scheduled to be removed on Qatar Airways Flight QA008 to Doha. Qatar Airways prides itself on being a high quality airline and doesn’t miss an opportunity to trumpet it’s SKYTRAX five star rating. It was apparently rated world’s best airline for 2015.

We can buy some time for Raja and Mahmoud by persuading Qatar Airways that it is not in their interests to allow the Home Office to remove them using one of their planes.

Please write to Qatar Airways, using this template if you like, asking them not to participate in the removal. Remember, remain polite and try to be as persuasive as possible, don’t make accusations.

You can send your messages to Qatar Airways London Heathrow Office by fax(0208 797 5003) or by email through Qatar Airways’ website (select Customer Services from the drop-down menu and fill out the form). You can also email the chief executive of Qatar Airways directly at akbar@qatar.net.qa – but I would recommend doing that as well as and not instead of contacting customer services as we’re not 100% this email address is correct.

You can call Qatar Airways Customer Services 0333 320 2454 (this is the number for ‘General Reservations’) and dropping them a line is an alternative option.

You can also tweet (@qatarairways) Qatar Airways and post to theirFacebook (Facebook.com/qatarairways) page – the same rules of politeness and persuasion apply!

Flight Details

Qatar Airways flight QR008 to Doha from Heathrow T4 25/06/15, 16:00.


Demonstrate outside Waterside Court

Monday 22nd June 12:30-1:30 
Please commit to join with Friends of Raja and watersideMahmoud to protest the unjust decision by the Home Office to detain in Yarl’s Wood detention centre and threaten with imminent removal, two dear members of our community. Raja and Mahmoud are known to many in Leeds through their involvement with the All Hallows Church community and from the year they spent living with a family in the Lilac cohousing project.

By holding a peaceful demonstration outside Waterside Court we will raise the profile of the case in a bid to stop their imminent removal and allow time for the judicial review of their case.

Your participation will really make a difference, please join us and speak up for the right to sanctuary in our city.

Getting there: Waterside Court is at 471 Kirkstall Road, LS4 2QB. The number 33/A bus leaves the Leeds City Centre Bus station at 12:05 then at 10 minute intervals.

FaceBook www.facebook.com/RajaAndMahmoud

Twitter #foram

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Hunger for Justice weekend

Over the weekend of 18-19 October, hundreds of churches nationwide will be urging their local MPs to tackle climate change, and praying for our sisters and brothers around the world. If you want to know more then visit the Christian Aid website

Here is a special Prayer from Malawi for us to use:

Lord, you are our rock, our fortress and our strength;

guide us, lead us and have mercy on us.

We thank you for the precious gift of your earth, in all its beauty and fragility.

Through it we are each bound to one another in a million ways.

For the sake of those facing rising temperatures, drought and water shortages,

strengthen our movement for climate action.

For the sake of those facing unpredictable weather, disrupted seasons and failed crops,

bless our leaders to work together to find positive, lasting solutions.

For the sake of all those who feel the impact of our changing climate, the poor and the vulnerable,

bring the hope of a brighter, cleaner future.

Lord hear our prayer and fill our hearts with a hunger for justice.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will set up our banners to call for change. May the Lord fill our petitions!

Amen

Yamikani Dakalira from Malawi is visiting in October to speak to churches about her work, and has written a special prayer for us all to use over the prayer and action weekend (18-19 October).

Yamikani works for Christian Aid’s partner, CEPA, in Malawi to combat the impact of climate change, involving the poorest communities in the solutions.

Use this prayer in your service or at your event over the Hunger for Justice weekend (18-19 October).

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Sermon – 24th August 2014

Notes from the sermon preached by Paul Magnall

Exodus 1:8–2:10
Romans 12:1–8
Matthew 16:13–20
 
And Jesus said “who do you say that I am”?
And Peter replied “You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the enigma of which is borne out in our interpersonal relationships”
And Jesus said “What?”
 
Maybe it is a sign that I am having an early mid-life crisis but reading this passage in Matthew leads me to ask the question “who am I” and “Who do we believe ourselves to be?”
 
One thing is clear to me, I am one person, one of 7.25+ billion people in the world, a population that is growing at a rate of about 80 million people a year. We live on a beautiful but finite planet occupied by over 8.7 million different species of life – excluding bacteria and single celled organisms.
 
Unfortunately many of us are living a lifestyle that would require several planets if we wanted to maintain that lifestyle. We are consuming resources faster than they are replaced.
 
In the last two hundred years we have used up fossil fuels that took millions of years to form. Over those millions of years carbon dioxide from the atmosphere was absorbed by plants and organisms which were then trapped deep underground. We have been releasing this trapped carbon in a way that is dramatically affecting our planet.
 
The mechanisms that initially trapped that carbon dioxide are still functioning – trees and plants continue to absorb the gas, organisms in the sea and the soil still sequesters carbon, and although we are beginning to understand all these systems we are destroying our rain forests, polluting our seas and trashing our soil.
 
And we are not content with wrecking our planet, our life support system, we also trash each other. We use something called economics, which no one really understands, but is a god that must continually be fed in order that its growth is maintained. As long as there is economic growth then all is well. And to maintain this growth
– we make sure that part of the population is working too hard whilst another part of the population has nothing to do.
– We make things we don’t need and then persuade people that they do need them, that they can only be attractive to others if they have them.
– We maintain the economy by making sure that things have a short life, that they either break or that they go out of fashion.
– We maximise profits by mass production of food and other goods even if it means that quality is poorer and choice is reduced.
– And we stimulate the economy by creating weapons that destroy and then selling them to anyone who is likely to use them particularly if it means that they might be our friends and supply us with other rare resources.
 
We are making a huge big mess.
 
So back to the question “who am I in all this?”
 
I, personally, believe that I am someone who is loved by the creator so much that he wants me to be redeemed and sustained. That love is shown in the life and death of Jesus.
 
And the 7.25 billion people, they also are loved by the creator, just as much as me. As is the planet and all the life that exists on it.
 
Realising this amazing love, should I not also love what my creator has created?

My change of lifestyle over the last few years has allowed me to slow down, to take time to observe. As I look at the view over Leeds from this garden and as I walk, cycle and work around Leeds what do I see?
– Hungry children in schools and on streets
– Supermarkets so full of food they have to throw huge amounts of it away
– Homeless people sat on street corners begging
– All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
– Ridiculously expensive cars
– So much waste
– An economic system that favours the rich and keeps the poor in their place with a middle class who keep their heads down in case they rock the boat and fall out
– A media that encourages a climate of fear and greed and encourages people to express their prejudices
 
The world that Jesus lived in wasn’t that much different? The area around Galilee had once been a wonderful place to live. Fishing was good, everyone had sufficient food and a place to live. But now the occupying forces and the local rulers and business men had taken control of the economic system paying ridiculously low prices for the fish which was transported around the empire. The occupying forces taxed the local people and the money and profits went to the rich people back in Rome and to run the Roman military machine which kept the Pax Romana by force. Society was split into the rich and powerful minority, the middle classes who kept their heads down and the poor.
 
And Jesus stood in the middle of this world and said “who am I?”, “who do you think I am?”

Peter’s response was that he saw Jesus as the Messiah, in other words, “the anointed”, the one who is our saviour or liberator.
 
Saviour or liberator from what?
 
I believe that the way Jesus lived demonstrated a “counter culture” to the issues of the time. He talked of revolution but it wasn’t a violent overthrow of the oppressors. He showed how people could live in harmony, overcoming the barriers that divide, bringing people of different backgrounds and politics together so that they could understand one another and accept each other, see that they are neighbours and dependent upon one another. That together they could be, as Gandhi is supposed to have put it, “the change they wanted to see in the world”.
 
This is why I am excited about Permaculture.
 
Permaculture has many definitions, the word originally came from “permanent agriculture” but now has been expanded to “permanent culture”. It is essentially a design tool with a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature. Of observing how things work and then working with them.
 
There are three core tenets or ethics in Permaculture which can summarised as Earth care, People care, Fair share and I hope that no one here would disagree with them!
 
Many people who practice Permaculture believe that by observing nature and carefully designing systems we can produce enough food and other resources in a way that builds a sustainable pattern of life on Earth for everyone and everything. In order to do this we do need to learn from nature and our mistakes eg we need to find a way of controlling our population, we could live more simply, embrace the concept of enough is enough, etc
 
Permaculture isn’t just about agriculture though, it is also about culture, about how we choose to interact with each other and the world, how we run our businesses, spend our leisure time. It’s about how we choose to live.
 
Permaculture has a series of principles, the number varies depending upon which of the main practitioners you read. I have put some information about these on the garden noticeboard, there are loads of books and articles on the Internet and I will write a little about them on the website at some point but these principles can be applied to just about every area of our lives, the aim being to produce a sustainable way of living in harmony with the rest of the world.
 
So I see Permaculture as a useful tool that can help us to care for each other and for the world. In our society it is a “counter cultural” tool because it is counter to the economic system that controls our society. It says “enough is enough” when our economic system demands more growth. It says “let us think of the next generation, and the next, and the next” when our society can’t get past the next election. It says “everyone is of equal value” when our society favours the rich and the powerful and devalues the dispossessed and those who are different.
 
But isn’t that what Jesus was saying? Isn’t that what his life and death demonstrated? A counter cultural, non-violent revolution? A change of mind and heart? That the abundant creator has provided us with more than enough? That we should love one another because we are all part of God’s beloved creation?

In our Roman’s reading Paul told the Church in Rome not to think more highly of themselves than they should, that they should “not be conformed to the pattern of this world” but be transformed. He then goes on to describe how they are all members of one body and how they should love one another using their skills and gifts in the service of all. The way Paul was calling the church in Rome to live was “counter cultural”, a reaction to the Roman society around them and that they should “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”
 
So, back to that question Jesus asked and to Peter’s reply – you are the Messiah, the liberator, the saviour. As we open up our lives to God’s creative and sustaining spirit I believe that we can see the power of the resurrected saviour and redeemer working in us and transforming our interpersonal relationships not just between ourselves in this congregation but with our community, our environment and throughout the creator’s world.

References:
http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

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Happy Christmas!

Christmas, a time for giving and a time for receiving, a time of joyful celebration and sharing.

So no room for politics!

But … Christmas is a political statement!

Mary’s song (the Magnificat) speaks of the birth of a new king who will scatter the proud, bring down rulers, lift up the humble and redistribute wealth.

A new king, one who becomes a refugee in the first few months of his life.

What could be more political?

“Simon” puts it very well in his “a sideways glance” blog – he says that Christmas is the:

“most political festival in the Christian calendar (apart from all the others!), it is the perfect moment for Christians to be talking about the things that matter to God – justice, equality, being practical good news to the poor, and challenging elites and the wealthy to use the resources under their command to work for God’s agenda in the world.”

So, I would like to wish you all a very happy and political Christmas – may the message of the kingdom that Jesus came to bring into the world be our inspiration for the New Year, and may His Spirit and our fellowship together be a resource to sustain us as we work to “make all things new”.

Paul

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