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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

5 February 2014: Rev'd Thomas James, assistant curate at St Peter's.

Who is your neighbour?

I have recently returned from two weeks on placement down at Portsmouth Cathedral. It was an opportunity to experience the work of our cathedral church, the mother church of our diocese and the seat of our Bishop, Christopher. This time also served as a reminder of my place in the wider church.

As Christians we are part the body of Christ, members of local churches but also a part of that greater body – both living and dead – spread across the world. We are reminded each week at the Eucharist of our communion with those who have gone before us, the company of Saints, and of our brothers and sisters who across the world meet together to share in that same meal.

When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment he replied with the Shema, the wonderful Jewish prayer instructing us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our might, and to love our neighbours as ourselves.

The church exists to make known the love of God, and to affirm that each and every person is made in the image of God and is therefore worthy of love and respect; as Christians the primary way in which we demonstrate our love for God is in our care and love for each other. Too often the church falls short of this and for that we must ask forgiveness. Often it falls short by failing to appreciate who we must recognise as our neighbours – it is not merely those who live nearby, or those who share our faith or beliefs, rather it is the whole of humanity, being made as we are all in the image of God.

This article was submitted for publication in the Petersfield Post on 5 February; it is possible that it was published earlier or may be published later.

Find out more about reaffirming your marriage vows at the special service at St Mary's, Buriton on Saturday 8 February

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