We all need moments of hope in these difficult times and I would like to share one of those moments with you. From March to August the Sunday International Group, when everything was locked down, moved onto the street outside 6 St Martin’s Place: each Sunday offering hot food, drinking water and most importantly continuity and a familiar presence – the sense that we were still here and they had not been forgotten. It’s hard to build community on the streets but we did our best. It was an intense, rewarding, but sometimes painful experience of being with and a time none of us will ever forget.
In September, with the Connection’s helpful advice, we moved back into the Connection building. There has to be a lot of regulations for everyone’s safety: face masks, hand sanitiser, temperature checks, only one at each table, social distancing, limited numbers etc. At first it felt awkward and alienating. And then on the third Sunday back, with the new washing machines whirling doing laundry and showers safely in operation for those who need them so much, I stood back and saw that despite the restrictions, community and relationships of trust and reciprocity were again so present. Many of those who had originally come to the International Group as guests have now become hosts serving and waiting so respectfully on their homeless brothers and sisters in facemasks – “And what can I get you? Would you like the Punjab vegetarian or chicken curry, or would you like Jeff’s shepherd’s pie?” And I realised those who often have little choice, were being offered choice and offering choice to others. One of the worst things about lock-down and deprivation is that it can take away our choice to share. Here once again was the space for hospitality despite all the restrictions. I realise what Christ meant and what a joy and blessing it is when the last shall be first and all are able to both give and receive.
Revd Richard Carter