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Bishop Richard's Weekly video Message - Transcript 08.06.2023

Video for June 8th, 2023

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s video.

Off on travels again this week, en route to meeting with our German friends in Nuremberg. There is a delegation of us from the diocese for their biennial ‘Kirchentag’.  I’m looking forward to meeting Bishop Elizabeth and her team and sharing in the conference.

The link between our dioceses goes back 30 years, but there are associations between Hereford and Germany that significantly pre-date that.  I’m standing here by Aachen Cathedral which contains the remains of Charlemagne’s Chapel.  This provided inspiration for the Chapel build by Robert Losinga which now only has one remaining wall in the Palace garden.  This was built at the end of the 11th century about the time the Norman rebuild of the cathedral started. In an act of architectural vandalism, one of my predecessors in the mid-eighteenth century was confronted with a choice between spending £20 to have the ruin repaired and £50 to have it demolished.  Despite the protests of the Hereford Antiquarian Society he chose the latter, leaving this one wall connected to the old Chapter House.

Even in the medieval period, despite poor transport links the connections across Europe we strong. Post Brexit it is ever more important to keep our friendly links with brothers and sisters in mainland Europe who share many of the same challenges in living and sharing the Gospel that we do. There is no place in Christian theology for racism and a narrow jingoistic patriotism.  Even the people of Israel, whose conquest of the promised land throws up numerous ethical challenges for us, were instructed to offer hospitality to the stranger and alien.  In Deuteronomy 10 we read, “..the great God mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes . He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourself were foreigners in Egypt.”

As a foreign guest I was happy to give a little speech at the welcome ceremony for our arrival in Nuremberg this week.

Many thanks for your friendly reception.  Please forgive my terrible German

We are delighted to be here.  Our diocesan link began 30 years ago. In our world today, such links are increasingly important. Our world is becoming more secularised. It has less and less place for God. However, we a people of resurrection hope.  The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the turning point of history. It would be true, even if no-one believed it.

Our task as communities of faith is to demonstrate in our lives that the Gospel is true, not only in our own churches but in links between brothers and sisters in other countries. As the world becomes increasingly fragmented, our link shows that in Jesus Christ we are one: other countries, other cultures, other histories, but we are all one in Jesus Christ.

We are delighted with our continued relationship. We pray that it would get deeper and that we would be encouraged in our faith and mission together.  We are thankful for your hospitality.

We wish you a great Kirchentag.

It is a wonderful thing to be in receipt of hospitality in a foreign country and we are all thankful for it. We have an opportunity to offer such hospitality to people who have arrived in our own midst and live out the commandment in Deuteronomy 10.  There are currently over a hundred asylum seekers living in the Three Counties Hotel in Hereford.  They have very little, and are completely dependent on the hospitality and generosity of others.  It is interesting that the writer of Deuteronomy doesn’t speculate on whether the foreigners were smuggled into Israel slung under a camel.  The sole criteria to help was that there was a need.  I am very proud of our Diocesan Mothers Union who have been working to support refugees and are seeking to provide shop vouchers for these refugees to give them the dignity of some personal choice.  This is a truly wonderful organisation, the backbone of social provision and family support in much of Africa.  We are launching an appeal to help.  There are details on the diocesan website, please contribute as generously as you can.

And there’ll be more from Germany next week.

+ Richard

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