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Tourist Season

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 11 May 2014

Travelling sometimes brings unexpected perspectives.

I write this from Florence, a city like London, that welcomes hoards of tourists from around the globe. This point was well made to me by the hotel owner as I arrived, after I had struggled to drag my suitcase a mile or so past slow moving coach parties.

On the way, a piece of graffiti in English caught my eye: ‘If this is tourist season, why can’t we shoot them?’

Perhaps a little harsh, but who can truthfully say that they have never ever resented tourists in London? As we look forward to the height of ‘tourist season’, it is worth remembering that the church had been in the hospitality business a long time. It more or less invented tourism. From pilgrimages and festivals to Sunday School outings and parish exchange visits we church goers have always loved to go places.

We have a long history of welcoming visitors too. Here at St Martin’s, this probably started with the monks who worked ‘in the Fields’ and continues today with our ministry of welcome, our cafe, concerts and shop.

Being truly welcoming to strangers is for good reasons. Those demanding people who arrived at Abraham and Sarah’s door wanting to be fed turned out to be angels. And wasn’t Jesus rather fond of turning up unexpected for meals?

Sophie Tyler