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London in August

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 11 August 2013

I have mixed feelings about August.

I hate the fact that it is assumed to be the ‘holiday month’ when lots of people have to carry on working.  I love the fact that it is often the only time when it is acceptable to fit in other commitments around family or friend’s needs.  I love too the fact that it ‘thins’ out the congregation so that we see those that visit us more easily and can welcome them properly.

This time last year, with the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we were welcoming on a grand scale and all of us Londoners seem to be better for it.  This year, we seem to be faced with a different response: welcome some but be suspicious of others as they may have overstayed their visa or have come here illegally.

Should this make us uneasy?  Even from my limited understanding of the Gospels, let alone the epic stories of migration in the Old Testament, being suspicious of the ‘stranger’ seems wrong.   Jesus, himself the immigrant baby in Egypt at one time, tells of the kingdom being inherited by those who ‘welcomed the stranger’.  

“When was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you…?”

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it one of the least of those who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  (Matthew 25.38 & 40)

Perhaps this August our commitment to welcome needs to be proclaimed for the good of all, not just for those who come through our door.

Sophie Tyler