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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

12 December 2018: Rev'd John Owen, Vicar of Steep and Froxfield with Privett

Rev'd John Owen - Vicar of Steep and Froxfield with PrivettChristmas Visitor

Gentlemen of the road. That’s what they used to be called when I started off as a vicar, thirty plus years ago.

They had a strict code of conduct: they never asked for money when they appeared at your door. They wouldn’t beg or borrow. But they appreciated a dry place to sleep in outhouse or garage and breakfast in the morning was welcome, as was the gift of a coat or shoes and perhaps some food to take with them as they journeyed on.

I got to know George through his regular calls at the Vicarage. No longer young, but still fit and strong, he would walk his way across Wiltshire. One year, at Christmas time, he appeared at the door; the family had just finished eating a festive meal and it seemed unchristian to exclude George. It wasn’t exactly the most convenient time for us, I thought, as I left George and went over to another carol service in the church.

We sang again the old songs about peace on earth and goodwill amongst all, and the homeless family for whom there was no room in the inn. I thought of George, gentleman of the road and of no fixed abode, and I was glad we had offered some shelter and some food. We’d done something which was in tune with the seasonal message, but George had actually shown us how to be hospitable at Christmas.

Film: Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East at Petersfield United Reformed Church, Thursday 13 December

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