Fiona and I have been bowled over by how kind and thoughtful everyone has been to us in our first couple of weeks here. When we arrived in the flat there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers and cards from the staff team. When we have met the staff and congregation here we have been struck by the warmth and sincerity of their welcome. I’ve heard one of the ethics that we (I can now say we!) at St Martin’s are aiming to grow towards is to treat everyone as if it’s their birthday. Delighting in them and looking to simply enjoy being with them. Well, you have certainly succeeded in that this week.
Welcome seems so at the heart of who we are here and it’s so powerful, partly because there are few things that show more clearly the nature of Christ. The joyful and kind and gentle and thoughtful welcome he shows to all he met was life-changing. We could even say there’s something of a sacramental nature in acts of welcome. Ordinary things, everyday bread, wine, water… or, in our case, a smile, a kind word, an offer of a coffee for a colleague who looked down or a thoughtful card for a neighbour, takes on power beyond its molecules. God is present and lives are transformed. You’ll know this if you’ve got used to the habit of welcome… from time to time someone finds you after years, maybe even decades and tells you that that one coffee, that one bowl of soup, that one kind word was the moment where they discovered a new light, new hope and new future. We may not have thought it was anything out of the ordinary but God was present in that moment using our little offer of a coffee or kind word to perform a miracle.
I’m so excited that Fiona and I are now part of you, part of this community and part of your journey. I’m looking forward to joining with you, with Christ, in the famous welcoming culture of St Martin’s.
Revd Sally Hitchiner