Chapter & verse: Luke 10:25-37
Richard Reddie hears the call to be a good neighbour
The Voice newspaper – which carries information and news resonating with Britain’s black community – recently had a feature on the Trinidadian-British actor, Rudolph Walker, who had just turned 80. The article mentioned that although Walker is well known to Britons for his role as Patrick Truman in the long-running BBC soap opera EastEnders, he first came to the attention of television viewers playing Bill Reynolds in the 1970s ITV sitcom, Love Thy Neighbour. This so-called comedy saw black and white neighbours resolve their differences through a series of racist epithets and crude stereotypes, which make uncomfortable viewing today.
‘Love thy neighbour’ is associated with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Most of us are familiar with the story, which encapsulates naivety (the attacked man), violence (the bandits’ actions) callous indifference (the priest and Levite) and compassion (the Samaritan).
For me, the most pertinent sentence in the parable is the law expert’s question: ‘And who is my neighbour?’ There is little doubt that our ‘neighbour’ is a person (or people) in need. But how do we identify that person? And, what is the best way of assisting them?
As part of my role at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), I coordinate the work of the Churches’ Refugee Network, which encourages and empowers churches to engage with issues linked to migration, asylum seekers and refugees. Asylum seekers and refugees who flee persecution, conflict, climate change in the form of drought, flooding and famine, as well as poverty, are people in need. I’m also working with colleagues on the Church of Sanctuary programme, which encourages churches to provide hospitality and a welcoming place of safety to all fleeing violence and persecution. Sanctuary is a longstanding prophetic theme of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Being neighbourly answers God’s call for Christians to promote cultures of safety, and goes against the UK’s socio-political grain, which has seen Britain become antagonistic to those who are deemed ‘not to belong’…
Richard Reddie is Director of Justice and Inclusion for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
This is an extract from an article that was published in the December 2019/January 2020 edition of Reform