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  • Writer's pictureRev Kalantha Brewis

Don't Talk To Strangers!

Life at the Vicarage is rarely dull. The other day, I was minding my own business when the phone went. It was a lady whose husband was walking from somewhere in the South of England to Cape Wrath: he’d been planning to spend the night at the Camp in Grimley, but the ground was too wet:


Could I, as the vicar, suggest an alternative? To cut a long story short, the gentleman in question (aged about 60) ended up camping on the vicarage lawn, and joining me, my daughters, and our Syrian friends for supper. We had a great evening, and the following morning I made him a mug of tea before he went on his way. As we were chatting, he said he wanted to thank me, because he had never in his life before shared a meal with a Muslim family; that it had been so good to meet our Syrian friends, and realise that they were “just like him”. He had felt comfortable with them in ways he had not expected to, chatted about their kids, and heard a bit of their story. We reflected on how important it is not just to learn and talk about people, but to learn and talk with them.

Relationship and personal encounter are at the heart of building respect and understanding between ourselves and people whom we perceive as different. Of course, sometimes getting to know someone can be a very negative experience!! However, generally speaking, our own fears and anxieties can make people we don’t know seem a great deal more threatening and different than they are in reality.

This was a truth at the heart of what Jesus taught, when he ate and drank and hung out with all the “wrong” people- the people who were regarded as morally or literally untouchable at the time. There was nobody he wouldn’t have a conversation with, nobody he wouldn’t try to get to know.

A lot of us still have our own “untouchables” today- we are worried by people who are too heavily tattooed for our liking, or whose skin isn’t the same colour as ours, or whose sexuality or gender identity seems strange to us, or whose faith (or lack of it) causes us discomfort. People who have a lot more than we do in the way of money or education, or a good deal less…

So- your challenge this month- “should you choose to accept it”- is to find a way to make conversation with someone who takes you out of your normal sphere, out of your comfort zone. Eating a meal together is a great way to do it, but maybe you could just start with a coffee, or think about other ways to reach out – for example through volunteering.  You might find yourself making friends, receiving joy, building community, and surprising yourself!

Every Blessing

Revd Kalantha

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