Refugee Sunday Worship Resources

January 6, 2010

The following prayers, collects, Scripture readings and hymns are suggested worship resources.  They are suitable for use for a Sunday worship service designated as "Refugee Sunday" or for refugee committee meetings.


O God, our great strength, help us to fix our eyes on you, trusting in your mercy.  Help us to look into the world and discover that you are there, our Immanuel.  Strengthen us as we hold out open hearts and hands to the stranger, to the homeless, to the lonely, to the broken in mind and spirit.  Stir us with your presence, your strength, to the homeless, to the lonely, to the broken in mind and spirit.  Stir us with your presence, your strength, and your love.  All this we ask in the name of your Son, our Lord, AMEN.

Heavenly Father, thank you for making us members of your family--"children of God" and "heir of heaven."  Help us to extend the boundaries of our parish family to those who are without family, home and country.  Stir us to make and live out our commitment to welcoming the stranger into our midst.  Help us to love those welcomed, to share our lives and to witness to them of your love for all of us in the person of your Son, Jesus Christ, our risen Savior and Lord.  In his name we ask this, AMEN.

(The following may be especially suitable for children.)

Dearest Jesus, thank you for making us all brothers and sisters in God's family.  Help us to help our brothers and sisters who have no homes.  Remind us to pray for them and give our gifts to help them. AMEN.

O God, we ask your living protection of all refugees yearning for freedom and hope in a new land.  May we ever remember that the Holy Family, too, were refugees as they fled persecution.  Bless, guide and lead us in faith to open doors and to open our hearts through this ministry of hospitality.  Give us strength, vision and compassion as we work together to welcome those in need.  We ask this in the name of Christ. AMEN.


Leader: Almighty God, we give thanks for all your goodness.  We bless you for the love that sustains us from day to day.  We praise you for the gift of your son, our Savior, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  We thank you for the Holy Sprit, the Comforter; for your holy Church, for the means of grace, for the lives of all faithful and good people and for the hope of the life to come.  Remind us ever to treasure in our heart all that our Lord has done for us.  Enable us, O God, to show our thankfulness by lives that are wholly given to your service.  Lord, in your mercy.

Response: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Help us to look with compassion upon the people of this world who live with injustice, terror, hunger, disease and death as constant companions. Lord, in your mercy.

Response: Hear our prayer.

Leader: As your Son came ot earth not to be served, but to serve I love, stir us by this love to serve the homeless, to open hearts and hands to the stranger, the lonely, the broken in mind and spirit, who come to these shores from foreign lands.  Lord, in your mercy,

Response: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Preserve our nation that, rejoicing in and recognizing your many blessings, we may offer peace, comfort and protection to the troubled, the weak and the wary.  Lord, in your mercy.

Response: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Preserve our nation that, rejoicing in and recognizing your many blessings, we may offer peace, comfort and protection to the troubled, the weak and the wary.  Lord, in your mercy,

Response: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Above all, direct us to witness to and share your love and the eternal salvation purchased and won for all through the suffering, death and resurrection of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  Lord, in your mercy,

Response: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Cause us to recognize that we are all one family and grant us grace to show forth in our lives what we profess with our lips.  Fill us with compassion for those in distress and take away the arrogance and lack of concern frequently in our hearts.  Open our eyes to the many opportunities for giving help and instilling hope, and rouse us into loving action.  Lord, in your mercy

Response: Hear our prayer.

Leader: Rejoicing in the fellowship of the saints, we commend ourselves, one another and our whole life to Christ, our Lord.

Response: AMEN.


What does the Bible say about refugees?  God's people in Old Testament days carried out a tradition rich in generosity towards sojourners, strangers and aliens.  A hospitality code is even stated in Leviticus, as an integral part of the world of the Lord to his people.  We also find that Abraham and David were sojourners some point in their lives…that Joseph and Ruth had to adjust to new cultures foreign to them…and that many of the P salms reflect dire human needs for the refugee.

In the New Testament several related themes recur: for example, love for our Savior, love for our neighbor and trust in God's care.  Refugee ministry involves all three of these, and more.  Indeed, the Bible shows us that we choose to act in love and compassion because of who we are as Christians.  God's word also shows us the source of strength and wisdom for every ministry we carry out in His name.

Genesis 12:1  Abraham becomes a sojourner.

Genesis 37:27-36 Joseph is solid into Egypt but learns to adjust to the new culture.

Exodus 23:9 "You shall not oppress a stranger, you know the heart of a stranger, for  you were stranger in the land of Egypt."

Leviticus 19:15-18 "You shall do no injustice in judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor."

Leviticus 19:33-34 "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love himself as yourself…"

Deuteronomy 8:18 "You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth."  (God is the source of what we have materially.)

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 "He executes justice for the fatherless, the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.  Love the sojourner, therefore; for you were sojourner in the land of Egypt."

Deuteronomy 26:12 The Israelites tithe to help the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow.

Joshua 20: The Israelites establish cities of refugee for those who need asylum.

Ruth: Ruth leaves Moab to join Naomi in Bethlehem and learns of another culture.

I Samuel 23-24 David hides in the wilderness (23:15) "because Saul has come out to seek his life." (Similarly, many refugees today flee from life-threatening situations.)

II Samuel 22:2-3 "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.

Job 31:32 "The sojourner has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the wayfarer."

Psalms 2:12 "Blessed are all who take refuge in Him."

Psalms 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

Psalms 57:1 "Be merciful to me, O God, for in thee my soul takes refuge."

Psalms 61:1-3 "Heat my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint.  Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy."

Psalms 88:1-4 "O Lord, my God, I call for help by day; I cry out in the night before thee."

Psalms 146:9 "The Lord watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin."

Proverbs 24: 11-12 "Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.  If you say, "Behold, we did not know this, does He who weighs the heart perceive it?"

Proverbs 31:8-9 "Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all who are left desolate.  Open your mouth, judge righteously, maintain the rights of the poor and needy."

Isaiah 1: 10 "…you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the rock of your refuge.

Isaiah 58: 6-9 "Is not this the fast I choose; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?…to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?… Then shall your light break forth like the dawn…"

Isaiah 61: 1-3 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound."

Zechariah 7: 9-10 "thus says the Lord of hosts, render true judgements, show kindness and mercy each to his brother, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor…"

Matthew 2: 14 Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt.

Matthew 14: 13-21 Jesus takes loaves and two fish--and feeds more than five thousand people.  (The pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Mobile, Alabama, said, "Whenever we felt overwhelmed by the urgent needs of the refugees under our care, we have reminded each other of our Lord's promise: 'Give them what little you have and it will be enough!)"

Matthew 25: 31-46 "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

Luke 10: 25-37 The parable of the Good Samaritan. Here our Lord even chooses a stranger, a Samaritan, as our role model for actions of love.

Luke 14: 13-14 "When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you."

Acts 8:26-40 Philip shows concern for the spiritual needs of a foreigner.

2 Corinthians 8:12-14 "For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he has not.  I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that…your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality."

2 Corinthians 9: 6-15 "Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work."

I John 3: 16-18 "But if any one has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth."


The following hymns from The Hymnal 1982 are suggested and emphasize themes especially appropriate to resettlement ministry.

Hymn 9: Not here for high and holy things

Hymn 11: Awake, my soul, and with the sun

Hymn 71: Hark! The glad sound! The Savior comes

Hymn 293: I sing a song of the saints of God

Hymn 297: Descend, O Spirit, purging flame

Hymn 343: Shepherd of wounds, refresh and bless thy chosen pilgrim flock

Hymn 421: All glory be to God on high

Hymn 481: Rejoice, the Lord is King!

Hymn 522: Glorious things of thee are spoken

Hymn 539: O Zion, haste, thy mission high fulfilling

Hymn 602: Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love

Hymn 609: Where cross the crowded ways of life

Hymn 610: Lord, whose love through humble service bore the weight of human need

Hymn 627: Lamp of our feet, whereby we trace our path when wont to stray

Hymn 705: As those of old their first fruits brought