Outlook Issue 22 Winter 2016
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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The value of welcome
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. - Matthew 11.28 Some of you probably saw in the 26th August issue of the weekly freebie Coastal Scene the article entitled ‘Market town voted among the happiest’. In the article, which reported on a national survey of some 24,000 people across the UK, our very own Woodbridge came tenth, based on a wide range of criteria which would help people feel happy to live where they do. Alison and I moved from London to Woodbridge a couple of months ago (the whole business of moving is wearying, and carrying heavy burdens in the process goes literally without saying, when you have lived somewhere over 30 years), so a little rest was needed. We can honestly say that we have been so incredibly warmly welcomed by the people of St Mary’s that we already feel we belong. This warmth, of course, is not incidental: it is quintessential to what we as Christians are to show to others, just as Jesus did. The people of St Mary’s do that and we are extremely grateful for it. However, what is interesting is that all over Woodbridge we are finding the same thing: shopkeepers, postmen, neighbours, publicans, recycling people have all gone out of their way to be friendly, helpful, and yes – happy. Whilst I am not suggesting that the whole of Woodbridge consists of committed Christians, it does look to the outsider as if what St Mary’s and doubtless other churches do so well has somehow rubbed off on everyone else. What is certain is that a warm welcome and helping strangers to feel at ease lies at the core of the human inclination to move a bit closer, in order to see what it is that is firing up those who are already ‘within’. But of course we have a great story to tell, a story of unending and limitless love, which has the capacity to warm the hardest heart and give rest to the weariest among us. That story is shortly to be retold once more. So thank you, St Mary’s, and thank you, Woodbridge, for your welcome! Peter Wintgens