Sign-up for free e-newsletter

Viewpoint from Rt Rev Alan Winton 24/12/2015 

alan wintonRt Rev Alan Winton
Bishop of Thetford

Rough sleeping in the Cloisters at Norwich Cathedral may not sound all that rough, and we were sheltered from wind and rain when a group of us spent the night there at the start of December. We were doing this to raise money for the Church Urban Fund, and to show solidarity with those forced to sleep rough. In these days of austerity many struggle to make ends meet, and some fall into homelessness. Our TV screens have also been full of homeless refugees seeking sanctuary in Europe, desperate to escape the violence of their home countries

dove leftThe closest I got to knowing what homelessness really feels like was a sore back from the stone floor. But I was fortunate to go home to a shower and my own bed the following night. Really being homeless, day in day out, must be an incredibly hard way to live
We raised a significant sum of money for the work of the Church Urban Fund (CUF). Part of what CUF does is provide workers who help churches serve the most vulnerable people in our communities. A CUF worker is soon to start work in the Yarmouth and Gorleston area to help extend the excellent work already done by many local churches. Part of such work is to help people avoid the downward spiral that could lead to homelessness
Dove rightThe Christmas story, of Mary and Joseph searching for somewhere to stay in Bethlehem, of Jesus’ birth in humble circumstances, is inspiration for Christians trying to help the most vulnerable people today. Jesus came, not to a home amidst the rich and comfortable, but alongside the poor, and they were the people he often sought to help in his life among us
It’s easy to speak words about the love of God coming down to us at Christmas, but such a message has to be backed by actions. If we are lucky enough to enjoy a measure of comfort and security, then one of the best ways of celebrating Christmas and of honouring Jesus, is to reach out to do something to help those who have little. Of course, such care and generosity is needed all year round, as those in greatest need don’t just struggle at Christmas. But Jesus’ birth is celebrated best, by a heart moved in compassion and care for the most vulnerable
May God bless you with a happy Christmas