A message from the Rev’d Amanda Collinson

Posted by Admin on Thursday, 26th November 2015, 18:50

Amanda Collinson

Priest-in-Charge

St John the Baptist Church

Northwood.

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Tel: 01983 294913

Email: amandacollinson01@gmail.com

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Hello there!
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By the time you read this I am sure you will have had enough of the Christmas adverts (which have already started as I write this at the beginning of November!!!) and yet two have caught my eye this year: TK Maxx and John Lewis.  John Lewis’ Christmas Advert is always eagerly anticipated and I was quietly impressed with this year’s creation, in partnership with Age UK, which gives us the great strapline of ‘Show someone they’re loved this Christmas’….nice but I am sure the Man in the Moon would rather a satellite phone than a telescope!
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However I was really surprised and delighted with the TK Maxx advert which is about ‘Love your neighbour’.  With the brilliant combination of Otis Redding singing the immortal festive song of White Christmas in front of a collection of nice, bizarre, irritating and varied neighbours, we are asked to show those nearest to us, that we care.
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‘Love your neighbour’ – amusingly this sentence is nearly as old as Christmas! Jesus was asked a question as to what were the greatest of the Jewish laws.  Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart….the second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  In Jesus’ teachings, our relationship with our fellow men, women and children is inseparable from our relationship with God. Loving our neighbours is as important as loving God, in fact they are really two parts of the same thing – you cannot do one without the other!
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This is our first house on the Island and we have a wonderful neighbour, who we know well, but it has been our experience on the mainland that people are not even managing to know their neighbours, let alone loving them! Communities are no longer as close-knit as they used to be: I remember spending so much of my childhood in my neighbours’ houses, now the main form of communication is no longer over the garden fence but via some type of electronic gadget!
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Our first Winter in Clanfield (near Petersfield) included the very snowy January of 2010 and we had a foot of snow in a few hours. Our road was a very steep one and no one even attempted to get out of their house. However the next day we saw one of our neighbours digging and we asked why he was trying the impossible.  He informed us that he was going to be fined if he didn’t get to work: he was a tube driver in London.  We immediately went and got our shovels and started helping him, and within an hour over 20 others had come out of their houses, asked what was happening and joined us.  Ian was so touched by everyone’s willingness to help, however the most special time came at the end when we, the newbies of the road having moved in only a few months earlier, ended up introducing people who had never met one another, despite living in the street for years!  We came together that day as neighbours, and from then on we continued to really look out for one another and care for each other.  It was a very special home surrounded by some wonderful people.
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James and I think it is important to know your neighbour (if nothing else to have a spare key somewhere!) but we try and go further than that and have them as part of our lives.  It’s important – us human beings are animals who thrive on relationships.  We are not meant to be alone.  And so the least we can do is make sure those living near to us know that they can rely on us for a cuppa, a chat or a hand in emergency.
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However when we think of our neighbours, we think of those who live near us, but Jesus meant it to include all mankind – even our enemies! Jesus told His famous parable of the Good Samaritan to make it clear that “love your neighbour” means to love all persons, everywhere – not just our friends, allies and countrymen.
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Like the unselfish Samaritan man of Jesus’ parable, we are called to extend our love and concern to all persons everywhere, as though they are our neighbours. We should not exclude anyone or any group because of social status, a supposed character fault, religious difference, racial difference or ethnic difference.
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With all the sadness, atrocities and terrorist attacks going on around the world, I admit this is no small or easy task to achieve, mentally spiritually or physically: life is very challenging in so many ways….so let’s go back to the two simple lines the adverts give us: Show someone they’re loved this Christmas and Love your neighbour.
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Let’s do our little bit to make this world a better place and work towards that peace which Jesus came to give, all those years ago, to the world and which is still so desperately needed.
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I wish you and your loved ones a blessed Christmas!
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Rev’d Amanda.

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