Janet`s October 2018 letter to the Community

Janet’s Letter to the Community

As I write, the Swedish people are waking up to the prospect of a hung parliament, with a greatly increased number of seats having been won by the nationalist Sweden Democrats, standing on an anti-immigration platform.  In the last few years several other European countries have seen similar movements, including Italy, Austria, Germany and Denmark.  While the far-right has not had large electoral gains in the UK, there is no doubt that some of the same sentiments exist here too.

The reasons for this shift are complex and beyond the scope of a short article such as this one, but it is believed that the difficult economic conditions that followed from the 2008 financial crash have a part to play.  It may be a natural human response to attack the “outsider” and to try to preserve resources for ourselves when times are tough, but we need also to remember that we live in a hugely privileged part of the globe, and have historically been responsible for massive exploitation of peoples from other parts of the world.  Many of us also have roots in immigrant communities – even if we have to go back to the Vikings to find them!

In this time of uncertainty and increasing hostility to newcomers, it is encouraging to see that this is not the only voice in our society.  Refugee Welcome Dagenham is a project of St Mary’s Church Ilford on behalf of the Diocese of Chelmsford and is setting out to co-ordinate the resettlement of a Syrian family in our area, through the Government’s Community Sponsorship scheme.  They are looking for volunteers and would be happy to hear from you.

As Christians we are particularly commanded to welcome and support those in need, including strangers.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus describes the judgement that will take place at the end of time with the words, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me … just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.

As we care for, and welcome, those in need, we are actually caring for, and welcoming, God.  That’s quite a thought.


With every blessing,



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