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Rural Mission Sunday

One Sunday in July, at a service at Winterbourne Abbas, we marked ‘Rural Mission Sunday’, the theme of which was ‘Everybody Welcome!’ Rural Mission Sunday is an opportunity to celebrate the life of the rural church and is promoted by the Arthur Rank Centre (a Christian organisation that supports ruralministry). The theme of hospitality was chosen long before the seismic national and international events of the last year unfolded but it now seems particularly pertinent.

Rural churches and communities usually are hospitable and welcoming (certainly the four churches and communities of the Valley and Valence are) but this special Sunday helps us to focus on the Christian understanding of hospitality and to reflect on what we are already doing and what more we can do.

Throughout his ministry Jesus showed a bias to the poor and time and again his words showed that a concern for the poor is not just an optional part of discipleship but integral to it; an inescapable challenge to all who would follow him. He does not insist that the help we give others should be in grand gestures but rather in the simple things. Giving a hungry person a meal, a thirsty person a drink, welcoming a stranger or cheering the sick. These are the things anyone can do – simple help to people we meet every day.

I have written before on this page about the extraordinary community spirit I have witnessed in our four villages – people looking after each other in the best way they can. I love the term ‘selfless service’. It is something we should strive to do each day – some small act of selfless service, showing the love of God that is within us, being Christ’s body on earth.

Social isolation is now a real problem for our society as a whole, but the challenges can be even more signi cant in rural areas. Jesus’ challenge to us is to care for others regardless of who they are. The key to providing authentic hospitality is to see Christ in those to whom we offer that hospitality and from whom we receive it. Hospitality is two-way: we learn and receive as well as give.

May God bless us with love.
May the Son walk with us on the journey.
May the Spirit inspire us to welcome those we meet.

(A blessing for Rural Mission Sunday.)

Yours in Christ

Jean Saddington                     TeamVicar, the Valley and Valence

 

Our message to you

You are welcome, whatever your beliefs, even if you find organised religion irrelevant.
You are welcome, whatever your lifestyle.
You are welcome, wherever you may be on your faith journey; believer or agnostic, conventional Christian, or questioning sceptic.
We look forward to receiving the ideas and experiences you can bring.
We welcome the infinite variety of human beings and hope that our shared witness to Christian faith will not leave anyone feeling unwanted or unloved.
We think that the way we treat each other is even more important than the dogmas we hold.
e think it is vital to take seriously the intellectual and emotional problems many people have with the Christian faith.
We think Christians must be concerned with global issues of injustice and suffering.
We recognise that our ignorance far outstrips our understanding and that there is great value just in asking questions as well as in finding answers.
We recognise that our faith involves discipleship and a consciousness of all that is bad and promotion of all that is good.
Our hope is that anybody visiting our churches will feel welcome.

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