Our latest Community Column is written by local minister, the Rev Ian Miller.

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Last September I went on holiday with some friends. There were two men and three women in our group.

For Gordon and I, it was a revisiting of two countries, Austria and Switzerland, which we visited in an old Bedford minibus 50 years ago.

This time there was a fair bit of luggage, which was not ideal, because we were off and on trains, scampering up one platform, going up escalators to get to the next train.

(Can I say in passing, however, we are a third world country when it comes to trains? Germany, Austria, Switzerland – they do trains, clean and fast and on time!)

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But back to the luggage. For the men, a pair of shorts, decent trousers in case we go out for a meal, a couple of jumpers and an anorak for the mountains.

And did I mention shoes (sorry, a ‘pair o’ sannies’)? A decent pair for going out at night and some walking boots – though some women can make the cupboard look like it belongs to a well-shod centipede.

Men and women appear to have significantly different shoe needs. Not since Imelda Marcos fled the Philippines, leaving a cupboard stuffed with more than 4,000 shoes, has footwear been the focus of so much attention and concern.

Sometimes when you go through airport security you have to take off your shoes, send them through the scanning device, and pad along in your socks as if you were walking on holy ground.

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We even have expressions about shoes.

We say: “He’ll never fill his daddy’s shoes!” We boast: “She’s going to follow in my shoes.” We breathe: “I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes now!” We admit: “I haven’t walked a mile in her shoes.” And we assert:”If the shoe fits, wear it.”

We depend on our shoes. Shoes make it possible for us to step out boldly and briskly anywhere, to cushion and protect our feet from heat, cold, glass, rock, dirt and debris.

With the right shoes we can go anywhere.

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When Peter, Andrew, James and John heard Jesus call out to them, they were like runners hearing the starter’s pistol at the beginning of a race.

They ran. Their sandals were changed into track shoes and they became fishers of people.

Although they could never fill Jesus’ shoes, they could follow in his shoes in the pathway he had marked.

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