It is more blessed to give than to receive’ – Sanctuary Sunday at Christ Church Cathedral
What kind of welcome would the child refugee, Jesus, receive if he arrived in Ireland today seeking safety? This was the question posed by Dr Ebun Joseph, founder and director of the Institute for Antiracism and Black Studies, during the Sanctuary Sunday Service at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, yesterday (June 26). She wondered if Jesus and his parents would be given €38 per week, the amount given to asylum seekers. Would he be able to fulfil his potential and follow his dreams, she asked.
The Sanctuary Sunday Service, sung by the Cathedral Choir, brought Refugee Week 2022 to a close. Events took place in the cathedral throughout last week and the Dean, the Very Revd Dermot Dunne, said it was vital that the cathedral, city and country be a place of safety for refugees. Christ Church Cathedral was designated Ireland’s first Cathedral of Sanctuary in February 2018.
It was a stark reality, the Dean observed, that 100 million people are crossing the planet at this time seeking refuge, safety and a place to call home. “In our bones we know what it is like to seek safety and in turn, as we are a prosperous nation, must provide sanctuary,” he said.
In her sermon, Dr Joseph reminded the congregation that Jesus and his parents were forced to seek refuge in Egypt as Herod was searching for the child. In Refugee Week they remembered the different people who for different reasons had to seek refuge. She said it was important to look at how people were welcomed and treated.
She also pointed out that there was a tendency to think about refugees in terms of what we give to them. But she wanted to highlight how blessed people were by giving: “It is more blessed to given than to receive”. “When we meet foreigners they come with things that we need. They come with skills. Yes, welcome them. But they also have skills,” she said.
In the Bible there were many foreigners whose skills were used. She gave the example of Simon of Cyrene who was compelled to carry the cross of Jesus. “He was a foreigner and he served the Lord in his last hour… It is more blessed to give than to receive,” she said.
During the service the lessons were read by Dr Veronica Crosbie, chairperson of Places of Sanctuary Ireland and Pastor Dare Adetuberu, Pastor of RCCG Kingdom Connections and member of Dublin City Interfaith Forum. The prayers were led by Liz Parkin, a member of the Centenary Methodist Church and participant in the Sanctuary in Faith network.