During the past weeks we have been gathering items for our annual Christmas Hamper appeal. These hampers will be collected by the St Vincent De Paul Society and will be distributed to those in need. Thank you for your donations and generosity. The last day for your daughter to bring in items will be Wednesday 7 December. The hampers will be collected on Thursday.
Appeals at this time of the year for gifts and food for hampers are a familiar part of the weeks leading to Christmas and it is worth taking a moment to reflect upon this. Reverend Graham Long is pastor at the Wayside Chapel in Sydney and he regularly shares his reflections on the people he meets. I’d like to share with you his thoughts today:
“A face that could melt any heart met me at Wayside this morning. I love this bloke. I could take him home. Many times over the years we’ve found accommodation for him but his mental health occasionally causes uproar that sees him on the streets again. The last time we met, he raved about the kindness of those who ran the aged care facility in which he was placed. Today’s news however is that he is sleeping at Central Station. An outburst last week caused staff to draw a line that excluded him. His outlook is positive already and we clinked our coffee cups to toast four years since he drank any alcohol. We clinked our cups again and toasted 11 years since he’s been to jail. We clinked our cups one more time when he said, in spite of this recent set back, he didn’t self-harm. His arms show evidence of many hundreds of scars and it’s clear today at least, that he’s not bashing himself up for his failures which is a wonderful and significant achievement. I’m cheering for him.
In the café this morning a young person looked across from the other side of the room in a way that made me think they were aching to say something. I acknowledged the face which responded with a beam. “I’m off to work,” the young woman said. “I didn’t know you had employment,” I said. It suddenly became rather obvious that she was wearing a Woolworths shirt with prominent logo. “I just started. Our Pathways Worker Mandy got the job for me.” I said, “I bet she lined up the right things and then you got the job for yourself”. “Yeah,” she said with a sudden look of shyness. She told me that it wasn’t just about money but that she felt like a productive member of the community because of her job. “Do you stack shelves?” I asked. “No,” she said, “I’m a product replenishment officer… so I suppose the answer is ‘yes’ but I like the way I say it better than the way you say it.” “Any way you say it,” I said, “I love it. Well done.”
On the weekend, I married a young woman who is one of quads. I felt old as I recalled in the ceremony when she was just a basketball team in her mother’s tummy. There are many benefits of growing old in a role that it is my honour to hold. While down the South Coast I called on a man who I first met as a homeless man, and who today is married and has been stably employed for quite a few years now. The man has become my brother and within minutes of meeting it was warm and we recognised each other as if for the first time and as if we were born twins. Holy ground indeed” (Graham Long).
We are indeed on holy ground when we look into the eyes of another, hear his story or walk alongside her, even for a moment, and recognise ourselves there. As if we were born twins. What a gift to be able to see that. If the holy ground of Advent and the Nativity scene we kneel before on Christmas Eve have anything to say to us about each other, it is just this. And so our Christmas giving invites us to do more than to drop a few extra items into our shopping trolleys. It invites us into the heart of any sincere giving – a recognition that my own well-being and peace depend upon the extent to which I am able to see my brothers and sisters in need through the same eyes with which I look upon myself. And as the barriers fall and the divisions melt away we will surely be filled with Christmas peace as we allow Christ to be born in us.
Ms Kerry McCullough
Dean of Mission