Jesus called men and women to be his disciples.  The word ‘disciple’ comes from the Latin, discipulus, meaning “one who learns”.  Jesus’ disciples learnt by following the example of his life from his words and actions.  But his disciples are more than apprentices,  they are invited to grow intimately in their love of Jesus Christ – as are we!

In the Gospels, Jesus instructs the Twelve, and every generation of followers since, in the qualities of discipleship.  the call is life-changing and turns on its head our ordinary understanding of how life operates;  anyone who finds his/her life will lose it…

Jesus welcomed all who came to him.  Unlike other rabbis, he made no distinctions;  he welcomed everyone with the same degree of love and compassion, albeit at times his words were uncomfortable for some.  As Jesus’ disciples, we are called to follow his example.

When others welcome us, when we experience the hospitality of others because we are Christians, we are seeing the face of Christ.  As disciples nothing less will do in the welcome we offer to others.

We may see many ‘strangers’ in our area in the coming weeks – tourists of course, but also many Christians coming to Refuel 18 in the grounds of Gordon Castle and lots of folk coming to Speyfest and Fochabers Gala.  To paraphrase Pope Francis ” Instead of being just a Church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a Church that finds new roads, new ways – to step out and to to those who do not attend church, to those who have given up church or are simply indifferent.

Every act of hospitality, of welcoming and being made welcome, is a real expression of true humanity and of care for one another – especially the stranger.