With Advent fast approaching, many Christians will be reflecting on the circumstances of Jesus’ birth. There was no welcome for a mother about to give birth to a unique child, ‘no room at the inn’ for the Light of the World. As John’s Gospel reminds us, this was to be the pattern of Jesus’ life: “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” (John 1 10:11).
With winter on its way in the UK, Churches will be providing food and shelter to those in need, and we will remember, perhaps more clearly than at other times, that those who are currently homeless are, like each of us, made in the image and likeness of God, and that the Word made Flesh shared their experience of need and marginalisation.
Yet as the festive season leads us into a new year, the daily reality of homelessness in our cities and on our streets will continue. Housing Justice have created a resource called Your Church and the Housing Crisis. There are many things Churches can do to help: as well as using Housing Justice’s resource, you can consult the Joint Public Issues Team’s guide to how we can help create affordable housing.
But throughout, let our work be guided by prayer, so that we are receptive to the inspiration of God’s Spirit. Many thanks to Ian Smith and to Housing Justice for sharing this prayer with us, which has been written for Homeless Sunday 2015.
Are you waiting at the door
in the cold night
hungry and tired?
Will no one open that door?
Are you sitting in the queue
waiting for a glimmer of hope
and a chance to sleep
somewhere warm and dry tonight?
Are you sleeping on the night bus
passing my car as I drive home, late?
Are you wrapped in newspaper
huddled inside that old sleeping bag
as I pass by on my way to work in the morning?
Are you sleeping on that damp mattress
Dreaming of school and parks and friends
as the black mould fills your young lungs
with poisonous spores?
Do you wake up when the rats scurry across your covers
or is it the neighbours fighting yet again?
Do you know that Christ is there with you?
Can we see Christ in you
and can we resolve to make some difference
in your life?
God of all things
Take our hands
and lead us to the places where we are needed
where we can make that difference.