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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

14 September 2016: Rev'd Chris Williams, St Mary, Liss

Unconditional Love

When I walk down the street wearing my dog-collar (no, not that kind of collar – I mean the one worn by vicars!) people acknowledge me or say ‘hello’ to me who wouldn’t otherwise. My collar is a kind of badge and lets people know who I am. For most people it seems to say I am at least worth acknowledging. In the ten years I have worn it I have never received a truly bad response, although I know of colleagues who have had a very different experience.

One interesting response I sometimes get is: ‘I’m sorry I haven’t been to church recently’ or ‘I’ve been meaning to come along but…’. It’s sad that the first response when people see me is often guilt. Somehow (and that’s a topic for another time), the church is seen by some as something to make people feel bad (and not only for not going to church!). My Bible tells me that the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ and, ultimately, the Church, was inspired by God’s extravagant love (John 3:16) – not by wrath or anger.

I’m glad that most people can smile at me when they see me, but I would be more pleased if I knew this was because they see me as a representative of a God who does not want beat them up with guilt, but because they know he loves them with an unconditional love.

The first PACT Prayer Day takes place today between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm at the Life Church Centre in Station Road - all are invited to pop in during the day to pray for Petersfield

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