We have been abroad.
We've been to cities, towns and seasides,
We've visited castles, churches, museums, shops, parks and zoos,
We've walked till our feet were sore and sat on the beach until our skin went pink
We've read lots of books, ate lots of food and got up really late.
And in case you are wondering we did all this in Portugal in the last two weeks. It has been great to do all the above but the blessing of being Christians and Salvationists is that we have had the added joy of that unique thing called fellowship. We met up with old friends but also felt at home in Lisbon Corps with people we had only just met, sharing something more than interests or experiences but having a bond of faith, purpose and hope.
Now we are back home. We won't be doing very much gadding about castles and museums for a while. It's back to work today and it felt good to be back in harness after a lovely break. We have returned home to a different situation than usual, in that the damage caused by the arson attack on our SA hall has been quite substantial. There is a lot of sorting out and cleaning to do. Credit must go to Pete, our CSM for his hard work and for manfully holding the fort whilst we have been away. The Corps are supporting one another during this diffcult time, fellow Christians have been right by our side and the village community have also been very gracious and helpful.
So fellowship and community have really been highlighted for me in recent days, both at home and abroad. Perhaps I have noticed this more because I have just finished reading Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen, a book about solitude and hospitality. He writes "When hostility is converted into hospitality then fearful strangers can become guests revealing to their hosts the promise they are carrying with them, Then, in fact the distinction between host and guest proves to be artificial and evaporates in the recognitio of the new found unity."
"It belongs to the core of a Christians spirituality to reach out to strangers and invite them into our lives."