The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster is calling for people to be more hispitable towards refugees
Hospitality is really important to me. I enjoy inviting people into my home, perhaps cooking for them, sharing the best food and drink I can offer, and delighting in their company.
The ability to offer hospitality is important. A friend of mine whose grandparents were refugees after the Second World War tells of how vital it was for her grandmother to bake traditional cakes and share what she had made with her neighbours, even in the early years of life in this country when money was extremely tight.
For her, poverty was a deep wound not only because she couldn’t provide the best for her family, but also because she could not share what was precious to her with others.
The act of opening our doors, sharing what we have with others, is fundamental to cultures all around the world, and it’s fundamental to the Christian church.
I’ve rarely been to a church service that isn’t followed by drinks and biscuits or something more substantial. We show one another we care by offering what we have, small as it may be; we know that we are accepted by others when we are welcomed.
And so it is with shame and dismay that I have watched the failure of hospitality that has led to our borders being tightened in a bid to keep out people in desperate need seeking safety and welcome in this country.
I wonder who we have turned away – what gifts they might in turn have shared with us given the opportunity; what new energy and insight they might have brought once they had settled and taken up their place in society.
Of course there is sometimes a financial cost in welcoming large numbers of people into our country, especially in the early years when individuals are becoming established.
I add my voice to those calling for a more generous welcome to those who have suffered so much and who have paid such a high price to reach our borders.
As we open our doors and our hearts, I am sure that the small price we pay to welcome them will be vastly outweighed by what we gain by their presence among us.