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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

6 February 2019: Linda Clist, St Mary Magdalen, Sheet

We’re All Different, Aren’t We?

I wonder how you’ve been coping with the cold weather we’ve had since Christmas?

I’m one of those people who ‘feel the cold’ and I’d be lost without my fur-lined gloves and cosy scarf – not to mention ear muffs or hat. Yet I have friends who seem to stay in shorts (shorts!) even as the temperature plummets. It has to be seriously freezing before some people even put on an extra layer, never mind a coat. I suppose I’m as great a puzzle to them, as I shiver my way through the winter, as they are to me, shrugging off the need for a jumper or a pair of boots.

Of course, it doesn’t stop us being friends. We may even trot out the old cliché: that it would be a dull world if we were all the same. It’s really not a problem.
Yet, the society in which we live seems to be finding it harder and harder to accept other people’s difference. Why should we feel worried or undermined if our neighbour has a different skin colour or way of dressing? Why should we feel threatened by someone who has a physical disability or a different accent?

It’s impressive how readily people refer to the importance of ‘Christian values’ for our country. Yet the most basic Christian value is the acceptance of others, whoever they are. When Christ said God’s chief commands were to love God and to love our neighbour, he was challenged to define ‘neighbour’. He told a story in which the hero shows compassion and practical care to someone in need. Jesus chose his characters very deliberately. His kindly hero was a foreigner – one of a different group, a group generally looked down upon and mistrusted. ‘Follow his example!’ Jesus said. And so we should.

The Christian Aid Simple Lunch will take place this Saturday, 9 February between 12:00 noon at 2:00 pm at the United Reformed Church - all are welcome!

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