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August 2017

This month’s letter comes from our associate minister, Revd John Lees

Welcoming the stranger

A recent newspaper article explored how we have redefined the word ‘alien’. Today we normally mean little green men in spaceships. In the past the word meant ‘stranger’ or ‘foreigner’.

New learners of English confuse these terms, and one language guide offers a very clear definition: an alien is a technical term for a foreign national, and a stranger is somebody you don’t know yet.

Here in East Devon many people earn their living by providing a welcome to strangers, and we do it well.

I’ve often thought that in this part of the world we should invent a new Christian festival to supplement Christmas, Easter, and Harvest. We should arguably have a Festival of Hospitality, celebrating all the people who stay among us, enjoy themselves, and support the economy. It wouldn’t just be acknowledging tourism, but a celebration of welcome.

Many Bible stories tell us about welcoming people we don’t know, especially if they are in need. It’s a powerful antidote to tribalism and suspicion. This isn’t just about helping people you don’t know. It’s about fundamental trust – trusting in strangers, and encouraging them to trust that you will be a good host.

The Bible says important things about aliens – visitors, travellers, people from other cultures. Perhaps the idea is rooted in exile: ‘”So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt’. As in many cultures, offering welcome to strangers was vital. It’s a good reminder to treat people as you would hope to be treated yourself. Besides, your visitor might be an angel or (as Sarah and Abraham found) God himself visiting your tent. Sharing food with strangers is one of the most important ways getting to know them (the word companion simply means someone you break bread with).

Hospitality isn’t just about feeding and entertaining people – it’s about being generous, and being curious. Is about what we can learn from each other and seeing the world through new eyes. You may take your home town granted, but for a visitor it may be a visual treat.

As for a service celebrating hospitality – let me know what you think. In the meantime, watch out for aliens, and be prepared to offer them tea.

 

Breathing Space

This August there will again be a short series of brief, reflective, quiet services in St Andrew’s Colyton. Thursdays 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th from 6.30-7.00. All welcome.

 

Beach Songs of Praise

Branscombe’s popular summer Songs of Praise services at the beach return this year, at 6.00 pm on Sundays 11th June and 20th August. Come along for a good sing! Parking is free by kind permission of the Sea Shanty – and let them know if you want fish and chips there afterwards.

Pelleas Ensemble and Pimms at Colyton

The Pelleas Ensemble will play on Saturday 29th July, with Pimms and Canapes served on the green beforehand from 6.45.

Messy Jurassic

Messy Church had a great trip to the Seaton Jurassic Centre on Sunday 9th July. Many thanks to Claire and all the team at Seaton Jurassic for a wonderful afternoon.

Musbury cream teas

Once again it was lovely weather on Sunday 9th for the cream tea and open garden at Musbury Barton, by kind permission of Lt. Col. Tony Drake. Just over £500 was raised for church funds.

Messy Church July

This month Messy Church on 9th July is going for an outing instead of meeting in the Reece Strawbridge Centre. Anyone who would like to come please phone Kathryn Radley on 07599 292449 for details.

There will be no Messy Church in August or September, and we are meeting again in October.

July Breakfast Service

Our next Breakfast Service at St Andrew’s Church takes place on Sunday 16 July.

As usual, we begin with breakfast at 10.00 followed by a short all-age service beginning at 10.30 and lasting around 35 minutes, with plenty to engage all ages, including young children.

Do please promote/ share/ invite your friends…..