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 13 October, close to World Homeless Day, which is on the 10th.

Methodist Resources for 2019

As well as worship resources available from Housing Justice, this year the Methodist Church has produced a range of materials, from a Candle Lighting Liturgy to role plays and a video in preparation for its Advent Offering campaign. This supports the Church’s Mission in Britain Fund and in 2019 it has drawn stories of homelessness and positive changes from the Bristol Methodist Centre in order to explore the theme of “Homelessness & Hospitality”.

The importance of Homelessness Sunday

Homeless Sunday has been part of the Christian calendar for more than a quarter of a century. It is coordinated by Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action. You can find out more information about homelessness in your area from these organisations.

The focus for Homeless Sunday this year is ‘The impact of volunteering on the volunteer’. The organisers say this theme “is apt as Christians and church communities are at the forefront of the response to the rise in homelessness including the most visible aspect, rough sleeping”.

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 a fact sheet on homelessness in England, Wales and Scotland, a complete Order of Service plus hymn and sermon ideas are available on the Homeless Sunday website. They use as their starting point the story of Jesus healing a group of lepers (Luke 17: 11-19)

Hymns for the homeless

(Also see our suggestions for the broader topic of Social Justice.)

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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