Homeless Sunday is a way for churches to demonstrate solidarity with people experiencing homelessness in the UK, to challenge the conditions that give rise to high levels of homelessness, and to celebrate the work of the churches and others in tackling homelessness at all levels, particularly locally.
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 24 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
“Whatever level of engagement a congregation has with homelessness, Homeless Sunday is an opportunity to take it a step higher.”
Free worship resources (including preaching notes) are available from the new Homeless Sunday website. The worship ideas draw upon the set lectionary readings for 24 January, together with three additional Bible passages: Isaiah 58: 6-12, Matthew 25: 31-46 and Psalm 71: 1-6.
Hymns for the homeless
A range of hymns in Singing the Faith respond directly to this call, including many in the Justice and Peace section (StF 693 – 723). Particularly apt hymns for this week include:
A new hymn from Andrew Pratt worth considering for this Sunday is his 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 only. For example:
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 one that will provoke thought and discussion even if read.