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The Vicar WritesJeremy Fletcher
After two years living in Hampstead I am still trying to get used to the multiplicity of accents I hear as people talk into their phones. I did grow up in Bradford, and my early schooling was in classes with friends who were Sikh, Hindu and Muslim, but much of my life has been spent in less ethnically varied settings. London is a world city, and I am revelling in the diversity we share.
Such diversity is not welcome to all. I have just added my signature to a second letter condemning an attack on faithful believers at worship. After Christchurch New Zealand there came Sri Lanka on Easter Day. When I was at York Minster we often had services with people for whom security was an issue. It was taken seriously, but it was held that no terrorist had yet attacked a place of worship, so security could be restrained. Not so after attacks in eth last few years. It is a tragedy that there should be such violence, and shocking that people should be targeted at prayer.
While the arguments about this nation’s place in Europe are not ones which have provoked such violence, many feel the depth and passion of the arguments, and they will continue. Whether in or out of the EU, our relationships with other nations should surely be ones of mutuality and community, not hostility and suspicion. The world is too small, and our means of communication so all-encompassing that there is no room for isolation and arrogance. Disagreement, and the violence which sometimes comes with it, need to be met head on with love, acceptance, welcome and humility.
There are many small things we can do to foster community and generosity. One of them is to take the international theme of the Spring Fair seriously. In all sorts of ways – especially through food – we will be asked to celebrate the variety of places from which we come and in which we’ve lived. We can’t offer a royal wedding as a centrepiece, but we will be international, and intergenerational. Something for everyone on Saturday 18th May.
I’d like to flag up a couple of things in June too. On Saturday 22 June Ayla will be ordained priest at All Saints Edmonton. She will preside at Communion for the first time on Sunday 23 June at 6 pm, to allow as many of the friends who have supported her on her path to priesthood to be there. Tuesday 25th June is the 30th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, and I’ll be presiding at Communion at 7.30 that evening. I would love as many of you to be present at both events as possible. You will all be welcome. The priestly ministry is one of reconciliation. Today’s world needs to hear that message more than ever.