Vicar's View: November 22nd 2020



I don’t know whether you saw the Matt cartoon in the paper a few weeks ago (courtesy of The Telegraph). It shows someone talking on the phone: “I'm making Christmas plans. Are we not coming to you, or are you not coming to us?” I have to say, when I read it, it made me laugh out loud. It made me think again about the cartoon and the reality of what this might mean.
  I know some of the restrictions might be set down for a short period around Christmas but in reality, we will not be anywhere near normal.
   My mind was drawn again to read the passage of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 in which the religious leaders were trying to trip Jesus up. Jesus, as he often did, pushed back and asked them how they interpret the law and the leader said ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself’.

     What they were really wanting to get at was this: Jesus had been preaching in some of the Samaritan villages on his way to Jerusalem and they were not happy. For them, their neighbour only extended to one of their own. Hence Jesus told them the story of the Good Samaritan, which led to only one possible outcome.
   My focus is on our local contexts, particularly through these periods of restriction and isolation leading up to Christmas.

    The homeless person in the high street who, in the past, you have seen being given lots of stuff by passers-by; well, perhaps with lockdowns, the people are not there to give them the sandwiches or the hot drinks and many of the day centres have restricted openings and numbers because of the COVID-19 risk. So now may be the time to reach out for the first time and offer some practical help.
     Maybe you have a young couple or a single mother in the street with a baby or young child who may be in that position of trying to balance everything with little or no support.

    What about cooking an extra portion or two and dropping them off a meal? Or that elderly person down the street who is too proud to ask you to help, drop of a small bag of essential groceries at their door or even just a little cake as a treat.

     Maybe someone who is shielding and can’t take their dog for a walk, you could offer to do this for them. Opportunities for us to reach out are endless and everyone is different.

     You see, I think the religious leader wanted to separate the first bit of his answer, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind’, from the second bit, ‘love your neighbour as yourself’, as if they were two separate things. I don’t think you can do one without the other … I don’t think you can love God with all of your heart and soul and mind and not love your neighbour as yourself.

       Who is my neighbour for this season and what is God calling me to do?