The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, brought the Immigration Bill to the House of Commons for its second reading last Monday. The Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds wrote to her last weekend to her to urge her to “think again”, as it is “an insult to our incredible NHS staff & care workers, frankly hypocrisy from the government towards EU nationals; over 180,000 in England & Wales alone, who are currently working here, for ministers to stand & clap for them on a Thursday night & then tell them they are not welcome in the UK on a Monday.” It brings to fruition the promise of an Australian-style points-based system, explained by Boris Johnson in the December general election campaign, with NHS fast-track visas for overseas doctors [only ] who have secured an NHS job offer. “it will attract the people we need to draw our economy forward & lay the foundations for a high wage, high skill, high productivity economy.” It was voted through by a majority of 99 votes & will now go forward to further scrutiny in the House of Commons. This against the news that 64% of the public agree “that the coronavirus has made me value the role of “low-skilled” workers, in essential services such a care homes, transport & shops, more than before.” I quoted again in last weekend’s Outreach part of my homily from feast of the Epiphany Jan 2020 when I shared with you the proposed legislation on the points system of entry, in contravention of the gospel imperative of the Common Good, & the protection of the weakest & most vulnerable.“prospective migrants meeting hostility from today’s Herod’s “perturbed & so was the whole of Jerusalem” & others too close to home to name..disturbing the status quo on which insiders prosper “we’ve always done it this way” who see presence of migrants in UK as a threat rather than an opportunity “no room at the inn” as many would have voted for their exclusion, or for a points system of entry, grading their economic worth to us before allowing entry; a doctor yes; a nurse perhaps; [ & now in Covid a nurse & a bus driver from the West Indies or the Philippines, some of whom have lost their lives, having caught the virus at work..absolutely yes! ]; a carwash cleaner who lives in a stable, four to a room, no thank you..”angels unaware”..the infant Christ today is shown to all nations, celebrating the gifts & worth of migrancy..Christ himself sent by his Father, put at risk on his journey of migration from divinity to humanity; despised & rejected by the very people he came to save..ridiculed “this surely is the carpenters’ son?..& he could work no miracles there; he was amazed at their lack of faith”.
Many of you have in recent years been introduced to the practice of “lectio divina”, spiritual reading, after the practice of medieval monks who, as they painstakingly & prayerfully copied out books of scripture in the open warmed south facing side of the cloisters, would jot in pencil in the margins on the vellum, a word or phrase which came to mind & heart in their long hours of work. When they finished for the day, their spiritual reading jottings/prompts were there to take into the Abbey & get inside..it is regularly practised now with short phrases of scripture, & it works equally well with secular writings & works of art, as we have discovered in retreats at the Grange & in talks in the Parish. As a taster for such sessions, we often use a piece of poetry or prose, which bring out the hidden spirituality of writer painter & author. Last week I listened to Desert Island Discs as Lauren Laverne met Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate, native of Marsden, Huddersfield, & who was taught English at Colne Valley High School by my brother in law. I found some of his threads & simple phraseology spiritually revealing, food for lectio, & I share some of it with you, for you to ponder & pray, & to feel familiar with the experiences, insights & sentiments; “an imagined world, I just woke up; extraordinary things began to happen, the shock, the primitive magic of it, contactless contact with something in my head, with escape & shelter in it. To find the miraculous among the ordinary processes of the everyday became sacramental. Home, in the next valley to Ted Hughes, was somewhere to feel comfortable, my poetry a passport, home a place to come back to, to land, to feel secure, where I can regroup before the next adventure. Poetry could be packaged up in little bundles of language which are only black marks on a white page but, put in the right order, make extraordinary things happen in somebody elses head across thousands of miles & over thousands of years, & in complete silence. I want to get up & let my poems perform, a poet in print, & in performance these days; it makes it so exposing, the relationship & the contact between you & the page, & the moment when it meets its hearer, uncomfortable speaking about personal feelings, very vulnerable with just you at the pulpit; a stargazer, a wanderer, a time for daydreams. Poetry is resolutely compact in our own little desert islands, images, moments, queuing up to be written about. Step up & meet the challenge. We need to see hope & enlightenment at the end of it, [the pandemic] that we’ve learned something; the weather helps, trees greening, flowers opening before our eyes, all point to a future. Poetry stands outside the main stream, on the margins; an alternativism, a kind of awkwardness, part of northern identity.” I hope you can recognise & taste the familiarity of the spiritual in it…”& in complete silence”& “in the pulpit”..I discovered Simon has written a poem called “Ark”, & in last weekend’s Outreach, we opened for our children at St Benedict’s Primary School the first instalment of a four part story “in the dark” retelling the story of Noah & his family in lockdown in the Ark; I will copy “Ark” as an enclosure with this bulletin, & the second instalment of the story. Coincidence or the Holy Spirit?
Bishop Terence Patrick has written to us to invite us to take part in a Coast to Coast Rosary to be prayed on Pentecost Sunday. Dioceses in England Wales & Scotland are uniting, with each Diocese allocated an hour during the day; it begins at 9am in Arundel & Brighton, Northampton,& the Bishopric of the Forces, & it finishes at 9pm with Bishop John Keenan the Mission Episcopal Lead. We have been allocated 7pm, sharing with Liverpool & Motherwell Dioceses. Please could I encourage you to join together, in thought & love from your homes, to pray the Rosary at 7pm, the Glorious Mysteries, with the third Mystery, the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, being particularly live & relevant on the day & in the crisis.
Remember please, & share news of, our Church food initiative, set up by Rev Catherine Reid & myself with great help from Deb & Ray in the Village Shop; those in need can go in & quietly ask for a bag of food essentials, which Deb will prepare & then deliver to the persons doorstep; our two Churches [increasingly one Church] will source funds to meet the cost. It has begun gently & well, so please let it be known more widely as the need heightens as furloughing & short time working causes deeper food deprivation. A new initiative began in the locality 2wks ago “Community Kitchen” where meals, prepared & cooked in Hovingham by generous volunteers, are delivered on Tuesdays each week to those in special need. Some of our own in our Village are beneficiaries. Middlesbrough Food Bank remains open & in desperate need of help, now offered direct to them by cash transfer, or by cash in an envelope please, posted at St Benedict’s House. Please keep all of these intentions & many more in your prayers. With my love and prayers. Keep safe. Fr Bede.