Vicar's Letter June / July 2018
The recent revelation of the deportation of some of the “Windrush generation” has shocked many in our nation. It seems very wrong that those who were invited here, bringing their skills and willingness to work, have been treated so badly. Perhaps it has been particularly shocking to us, living in Norfolk, as the area has a tradition of welcoming the stranger. In the seventeenth century Norwich became home to “strangers” from the Low Countries; invited here, not only to escape persecution, but also to restore the cloth industry in the city. They soon became part of Norfolk life and many of us are descended from them today.
Jesus challenges his followers to welcome the stranger and in doing so to welcome him. So what does such hospitality mean and how might it apply to our Benefice?
True welcome often requires us to make space for the stranger, not only physically, but for their culture, their beliefs and their needs too. True welcome involves setting ourselves aside and considering the good of all. It is costly, but it offers us the opportunity to learn from those who come among us, temporarily, or more permanently, and to receive the benefit of their gifts and skills.
We are good at hospitality for our local communities with lunches and cafés in our village and church halls, where all are welcome (and the food is delicious!). Our clubs and societies welcome new members and seek to make them part of the group, making time to get to know them and to help them know others. How good are we, though, at welcoming the stranger, those who are not like us - those for whom we need to make changes to make room?
It may be that we need to be mindful of the benefits of diversity, of the gifts and skills that others may bring to our communities, and of our need to be willing to make changes, before we will be truly welcoming to all.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the villages of the Brooke Benefice became hallmarked by their willingness to offer a true welcome to everyone!
May God bless you,
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