Welcoming the stranger ………
Here we are at the beginning of Advent again! Looking back over the year it has been full of blessing. There has been so much gift and grace to celebrate in our life as a church. God has been with us and among us in many different ways.
We have spoken often this year of welcoming the stranger. It was a point of focus in our worship here last Christmas and again in Holy Week. Through the early months of 2017 the thoughts and prayers of the churches in neighbouring Nailsea came together with the hope that we might be one of the first communities in North Somerset to offer a home to a displaced Syrian family.
In September that dream became a reality. A suitable home was located, decorated, equipped and stocked with foodstuffs in welcome. A young couple arrived with a small child. They had been living in a refugee camp for several years and had almost no English.
Two months on they are adjusting to their new life here with lots of practical support from a team of Christian volunteer befrienders. They are working hard to learn our language and to adapt to our culture. They are keen to work and to share their skills just as soon as they can. We are asked to pray for work experience opportunities for them and also for a younger family to come forward now to befriend them.
With the possibility of another property becoming available next year, we might even consider welcoming a second family into the area, if our churches and North Somerset Council are again willing.
Every year at Christmas we open our hearts in worship to a child whose parents were welcomed by strangers at the inn and later sought refuge over the border in Egypt before finally returning to their native home in Nazareth. May this sacred story continue to inspire our attitudes and our actions long after the nativity figures have been packed away and the carols all sung out.