Comment by Harborough churches: Let's offer a warm welcome to those in need

Every week the Harborough churches write for the Harborough Mail. This week it is the turn of Tom Grant, a Licensed Lay Worker in the Harborough Anglican Team who is due to be ordained next month.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 10:59 am
Updated Monday, 13th September 2021, 11:00 am
Tom Grant is a Licensed Lay Worker in the Harborough Anglican Team, and is due to be ordained next month.

Viewpoint by Tom Grant, a Licensed Lay Worker in the Harborough Anglican Team

I wonder what constitutes a good welcome? For me I think of welcome gifts received which have been thoughtfully chosen and selected. Or perhaps, it’s the attentiveness of the host making sure that all my needs are cared for. Or maybe it’s being made to feel truly valued and listened to.

One thing I do realise is that I have done less welcoming and hospitality within my home over the past 18 months. In a post Covid world, I am now left wondering what does it look like to offer a good welcome? But also, what does it mean to be a good guest? (Masks at the ready…) The rule book has certainly changed.

Jesus was somebody who liked to tear up the rule book. When he spoke of welcoming and hospitality he told those listening not to invite their friends, relatives or rich neighbours to a lunch party because they might just invite them back. Rather he told his listeners to invite people who were unable to care for themselves and who had no way of repaying the favour. True hospitality is not reciprocal.

However, I do not think Jesus was saying literally, ‘don’t ever invite your friends round for lunch.’

Rather, he was reminding his listeners not to forget those who really do need help.

For the thousands of people airlifted out of Afghanistan in recent weeks their first experience of life in the UK was in a quarantine hotel. For most, their 10 days will have now come to an end. I wonder what sort of welcome they will receive? That will largely be down to the communities in which they are resettled. The welcome they receive will depend on the level of generosity and acceptance we as a nation show them. And yet it is down to each one of us in how generous we are with our money, time and possessions – a good welcome cannot be left for someone else to give.

As a Christian I believe that the practice of hospitality and welcome is central to my faith. It is not merely about enjoying the company of others, but it is also ensuring that I do not forget about issues of justice – to provide for the poor and those less fortunate.

Becoming a more welcoming society is something each of us can take part in. With the increasing threats within our world from global events and the looming threat of the climate crisis, which risks displacing millions of people, those from Afghanistan are by no means the last people requiring our help.

Each one of us can participate by keeping our eyes and ears open to the needs of our neighbours around us, just as so many did during lockdown. My prayer is that this spirit of openness and generosity might endure, so that as a society we might offer a warm welcome to those who seek refuge.

Tom Grant is a Licensed Lay Worker in the Harborough Anglican Team, and is due to be ordained next month.