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Bishop's Thought

By Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury

English, British, European or what?

There have been some lovely summer fetes this year. By and large the weather has been kind, including for the Salisbury-Sudan Medical Link fete in our garden. For the first time in three years we did not have to move it to the cathedral because of rain.

There was such a mix. I loved seeing two camels in front of the Amesbury Silver Band and a clown entertained children of all ages. There were masses of people buying books, plants, bric-a-brac, cakes, teas, strawberries and cream. There was a raffle with prizes given by generous local sponsors, lots of competitions such as “guess the age of a ram”, and a vintage Bentley on the front lawn.

A huge number of people worked hard to make it happen and it all depended on the hundreds who turned up on the day who spent and donated generously.

It couldn’t have been more ‘English’, not least because the money raised was to train midwives in a country where 1 in 7 children die before the age of 5 yrs.

What it is to be English, British, European and Global have been repeated questions this summer.

Christianity teaches us to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves.

In response to a smart alec question about who is our neighbour, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. For Jews at the time of Jesus, Samaritans were despised outsiders.

No-one would have thought there was such a thing as a good Samaritan, let alone one who showed religious people what it meant to be neighbour to the man who fell among thieves.

We learn to love in the particular, but charity which begins at home does not stop at home. Christianity makes thankful and generous hearts.

The answer to the question ‘Who is my neighbour’ is limitless: the whole world, without exception.

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Bishop of Salisbury
Bishop of Salisbury