I travelled south on Saturday …..

to preside at the induction of Nicola Furley-Smith as Moderator of the Southern Synod. The service was held at Purley United Reformed Church and as is usually the case on such occasions the church was full. It is on occasions like this that we all have the opportunity to be part of God’s wider family and there was a real feeling of that connection as a number of ecumenical guests and people representing the different areas of the Synod came forward to greet Nicola following her induction.

I then travelled to Eltham to lead worship on Sunday morning. Each congregation I visit has some different and distinctive aspect to it. People are always keen to share the good things about their church and their shared life and here I met two people with particular things to share. One very elderly gentleman gave me copies of two books, The Story of Eltham United Reformed Church and A Sketchbook History of the church. He had written the history in the one and the other is full of beautful line drawings telling the story too. The other gift came from one of the youngest members of the congregation on behalf of everyone. After the service a little boy came to me with a basket full of Teddy Bears and told me that all new people to the church are given a bear called ‘welcome’ – he had noticed that no-one had done this job and it is a tradition he was keen to make sure was honoured.

If there was a theme for the weekend it was one of links. It is not unusual for me to meet people in the churches I visit who I know or have worked with from other parts of the denomination and Nicola and I realised that we had met when she had been a minister in Leeds. In Eltham there was no-one with this sort of link but there were so many geographical links with the various places in which I have lived. All of which just served to remind me about how interdependent we are in a whole variety of ways and when we find other people different in terms of culture, faith or tradition we only have to look a little more closely to discover that we are more alike than different and that we have no excuse not to ‘love our neighbour’

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