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This coming Sunday many churches will be focusing on John the Baptist. As I began my sermon preparation an advertisement for Crisis at Christmas was being broadcast on the radio; and the free magazine of Liverpool City Council came through the letter-box with an article on the Council’s ‘plan to tackle rough sleeping’.

The centre of Liverpool, like most cities these days, is a no-go area for anyone who doesn’t want to see homeless people huddled in sleeping bags on the roadside.

OPEN TABLE – an ecumenical Christian worship community which offers a warm welcome to people who are: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer / Questioning, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA) and all who seek an inclusive Church – began at St Bride’s Liverpool in June 2008, meeting once a month for a communion service.

At the first planning meeting, someone said: ‘Will it be “Open Table”?’ When she explained that it means all are welcome, all can come as they are, we felt this was so important because we hear too many stories of people who feared exclusion, or were excluded, from their church community, who felt unheard or unable to express themselves or give their talents. So Open Table was born. Now Open Table communities gather across the UK, hosted by inclusive churches, serving more than 200 people each month.

Last week a man was given his life back. He has been in prison for 20 years for crimes he did not commit. It is said that he will get compensation, although it is hard to see what will compensate for the loss of 20 years of a person’s life and with it, presumably, friends, family, career and reputation.

What do people who are wrongfully imprisoned dream of during their years of mental, physical and emotional deprivation? It must take a while to even get to the stage of dreaming.

Poor Tim Farron! He took over as leader of the Liberal Democrats at their lowest ebb, just after they had been brilliantly undermined in the 2015 General Election by their Coalition partners and hated by everyone else for propping up an exceptionally divisive government. His chances of success were never good.

For the media, his weak spot was his disapproval of same-sex partnerships, an aspect of his Evangelical Christianity. Theos invited him to give their annual lecture on Tuesday. The full text is here. This post summarises the speech and offers an alternative account of Christian liberalism.