Over the May Bank Holiday weekend (28th April - 1st May), young Christians from across the UK and Europe will gather in Birmingham to explore their faith at a meeting organised by the Taize Community.
Welcome and hospitality will be strong themes during the weekend: in the welcome into local families of those who attend the meeting, in the experience of meeting with those from different countries and traditions, in the coming together of the local churches who are helping in the preparations, in the 'Hidden Treasures' of faith which the young people will be encouraged to discover.
During the weekend workshops will help young people discover the many ways in which Christians are trying to live out gospel values. In one of them, volunteers from St Chad's Sanctuary, a project welcoming refugees and asylum seekers, together with some of those they have welcomed, will share their stories of what it means to offer and receive a welcome.
As volunteer Steph Neville explained: "St Chad's Sanctuary is a place where I have encountered Birmingham in all its beautiful diversity, where I have met people from all over the world, who each bring, above all, a great generosity of spirit and a capacity for hope. It is a place where I have discovered that the essence of being human exists where we meet one another."
"It is also a place where I have been able to live out what I believe to be the very essence of the Gospel: the call to love one another, with a love that knows no bounds, a love that does not call us to build walls around what is familiar but to stretch out our hands in welcome."
In many small ways the "Hidden Treasure" gathering aspires to be a witness to that message of radical gospel hospitality. Those who participate are invited to discover that when we overcome the risk inherent in welcoming the stranger, together we can discover and create something beautiful.
At the heart of the gospel, and throughout the scriptures we hear the call to welcome the stranger. In the current climate, where a rhetoric of fear is so often allowed to dominate, it seems more important than ever to encourage young people who wish to take concrete steps to live as witnesses to the possibility of welcome. Even in very simple gestures we can respond to this challenge: "I was a stranger and you made me welcome." (Matthew 25:35)
For more details go to: www.taize.fr/birmingham
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