As a vicar, I am privileged to visit many homes and often get a warm welcome. I always welcome a cuppa, not just because I like tea, but also to accept this simple sign of hospitality. Welcome is so important – I remember how I felt when I went to Canada for a year as a young graduate student.
I had filled in a card saying when I would arrive. Someone was there at the airport, took me for a meal and then found me somewhere to stay when I was alone and far from home.
At almost every stage in my life, someone has been there with a kind word of welcome. That certainly happened when my wife and I first came here 15 years ago – and we have felt welcome here ever since.
It is scary enough arriving in a strange place if you do know the language. It must be much worse if you don’t speak. That is one reason why I have been learning Polish – and when I said a few words of welcome in Polish at a recent carol service where there were many Poles, one person at least was really touched.
If you can remember how you felt when you arrived in a new place, then spare a thought for those newcomers to our area – welcome is a vital word in almost all race and religion.
St John’s Church, Spalding