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The Vicar writesJeremy Fletcher
Hampstead Parish Church's Vision, launched in October last year, says that we are committed to "offering open welcome and active invitation". It speaks of the church having "a culture of compassion, generosity, invitation and hospitality", with a concentration on working for "reconciliation, justice and righteousness". All of this is rooted in the calling to be "an inclusive community of Christian love, faith, witness and action."
It is encouraging and inspiring to see examples of all of that in practice. This morning a regular visitor to the church reminded us that last year, when it snowed, we made coffee and tea available for free. They felt that, as it was cold again, we might do the same this year, and so we will. Once again guests at the C4WS Shelter which we hosted on Saturdays until last week said that the hospitality was remarkable, not least the quality of the food. I got a special buzz whenever I was there at 7.30 as guests arrived, and hosts greeted new arrivals.
There has been active compassion and hospitality in the detailed and committed way in which Monthur, Rahaf, Aseel and Mohammed, the family of Syrian refugees, have been welcomed and helped to settle as part of the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. A group of people from across the churches (and beyond) have spent many hours with the family, accompanying their first steps in learning English and getting to grips with this great city. This is the mission of the church in action, and though it is no more than we should do, it is a stunning example of an outworking of faith and commitment.
There is invitation too. The Valentine's Ball, on February 9yth, is all about the church and Hampstead Parochial School putting on an event to which we can invite friends and colleagues. One of the aims of building up community life is expressed in increasing "food based hospitality" so that we have great things to invite people to. It looks like 200 people will be at the ball. Generous sponsorship and keen pricing will mean that the event will be of high quality, and there will be significant proceeds to benefit C4WS in its work with the homeless.
Someone once said that "if you're resting on your laurels you've got them in the wrong place." Week by week there is stunning worship, generous welcome, active engagement and open invitation at Hampstead Parish Church. Whenever I'm tempted to become complacent and even a little proud about all that's happening, another need becomes obvious, another flaw or failing or missed opportunity makes itself plain. I'm grateful for all these opportunities to express the love and challenge of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I hope we will continue to spur each other on to build this inclusive Christian community, and that we will lose no opportunity to invite people to "come and see".
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