Homeless Sunday

If we claim to love our neighbour... © 2014 Photos.com, a division of Getty Images

Each year Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action join in organising Homeless Sunday. This year’s event will take place on Sunday 28 January.

Homeless Sunday is a chance for churches and Christian groups from across the country to join together to pray, reflect and plan practical action on homelessness, but also for a united Christian voice to offer solidarity and be a prophetic voice for change.

From 2008 to 2014, Homeless(ness) Sunday was part of Poverty & Homelessness Action Week, a three-way partnership also involving Church Action on Poverty. In 2015, the re-named “Homeless Sunday” became a stand-alone event, and this year will take place on 28 January. It is coordinated by Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action.

The purpose of Homeless Sunday is threefold:

  • showing our concern for individuals affected by homelessness
  • challenging the conditions that create it
  • celebrating work that tackles the problem

London, 1 May, 2011 - Homeless people standing in line for free food at the monthly food handout in Strand, London. © 2018 Getty

“Whatever level of engagement a congregation has with homelessness, Homeless Sunday is an opportunity to take it 
a step higher.”

As well as fact sheets on homelessness in England, Wales and Scotland, a free theological reflection is available from the Homeless Sunday website. It is draws upon two additional Bible passages: James 2: particularly 14-17; and Mark 12: 41-44.

Hymns especially appropriate to the two Bible readings include:

James 2: 14-17

Heaven shall not wait for the poor to lose their patience (StF 701)
Jesu, Jesu (Kneels at the feet of his friends) (StF 249)
Jesus Christ is waiting (StF 251)
Love inspired anger (StF 253)
Would you walk by on the other side? (StF 257)

Mark 12: 41-44

A rich young man came seeking (StF 243)
O God, what offering shall I give (StF 562)
Take my life, and let it be (StF 566)

Hymns for the homeless

(Also see our suggestions for the broader topic of Social Justice – noting that the UN sponsored World Day of Social Justice is marked annually on 20 February.)

September 2015, Manchester England. Homeless encampment © 2018 Getty

A range of hymns in Singing the Faith respond directly to the challenges that homelessness present to our faith and action, including many in the Justice and Peace section (StF 693 – 723). Particularly apt hymns for this Sunday include:

I will speak out for those who have no voices by Dave Bankhead et al (StF 702), which also works effectively as a responsive prayer, and
In an age of twisted values by Martin Leckebusch (StF 703)

A more recent hymn from Andrew Pratt worth considering for this Sunday is If we claim to love our neighbour (website only), which was well received when it was published prior to the 2015 General Election. Written in response to a presentation by the Joint Public Issues Team, the words are designed to be sung to familiar tunes: Bethany (StF 25) or Scarlet Ribbons (StF 131). The hymn begins with a stark challenge:

If we claim to love our neighbour
while the hungry queue for food,
are we prey to self deception?

Also helpful are:

Bernadette Farrell’s perennially popular but challenging Longing for light, we wait in darkness (StF 706)
‘Come, now, you blessed, eat at my table’ by Ruth Duck (StF 695)
God of justice, Saviour to all by Tim Hughes (StF 699)

But you don’t need to confine yourself to this section of the hymn book. For example:

© 2018 Getty

Allan Dickinson’s Where can we find you, Lord Jesus our Master? (StF 672).The words were inspired in part by some Bible Reading Notes that reflected on the incarnation of Jesus. They spoke of Jesus as being with and “for” the marginalised of society – “the poor, the homeless, the people that respectable people wouldn’t touch with a barge pole”.

Damien Body engages with the tough issues of prostitution and poverty in Dressed up on the kerbside (website only) – a hard hymn to sing but thought provoking even if read.

Categories: Special Sundays and weeks, Worship Resources.

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