West Ham Archdeacon Elwin Cockett on love and compassion

Elwin Cockett Archdeacon of West Ham

Elwin Cockett Archdeacon of West Ham - Credit: Archant

2015 has been a tough year for many people in Newham.

2015 has been a tough year for many people in Newham.

In particular I think both of those who are living in fear of terrorism and also of our Muslim brothers and sisters who’ve felt pressured to defend themselves in the wake of horrendous attacks carried out so outrageously in their name.

I want to echo the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury in saying that no one in this country should have to feel fear and anxiety as they try peacefully to live, pray and worship.

East London is a place which has always welcomed refugees and in-comers.

That was true for the French who came here in the 17th and 18th centuries, and for countless country folk from all around the British Isles who came from the newly-mechanised farms, where they were no longer needed, to London in the 19th century, looking for work.

It was true for the Irish men and women who came to Mile End and Stratford, to work on our roads and railways and in the match factory at Bow.

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Many white East Enders are descended from these people who came to find safety, work and hope for the future, even if they were misunderstood and hated when they arrived.

Jesus and his family were once misunderstood and hated.

Mary and Joseph fled with Jesus to Egypt as refugees and migrants. Jesus went on to be misunderstood, hated, attacked throughout his life.

But in the way he treated others he taught us a profound lesson about how we should treat each other.

What does that mean for us in Newham?

Well, we can respond to God’s love for us by showing love and compassion to those who might be feeling like they are on the margins, just like Jesus and his family were.

That could be inviting your neighbour around for a cuppa or a meal.

It could be just talking to them.

It could be simply sitting next to that person on the bus who others seem nervous about sitting with.

Try it – take the risk, see what happens. You might be surprised!