From The Rectory
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
(Matthew 25 v34-36)
The above passage comes from Jesus’ teaching on the separation of the sheep and goats. A passage looking ahead to the end of time as we know it, a time when the scriptures tell us that Jesus will return and we will be held accountable for how we have lived our lives.
The message of judgment is an unpopular one and we often prefer to think of the loving God. But I believe God’s judgement reflects his love for us and His creation, it is about each of us being held to account, to use our time, talents and wealth wisely.
This year I signed up to help at the Maidstone Churches Night shelter. The project run by the churches in Maidstone has been running for several years and looks to provide, shelter, food, clothes and safety for the homeless of Maidstone during the winter months. It is a very practical way to demonstrate the response that Jesus was asking for in the above passage.
The night shelter depends on volunteers dedicating time and energy. There are many roles that need covering, but as the saying goes many hands make light work.
Spending the night with 13 homeless people was both rewarding and challenging. There was the physical challenge of the lack of sleep, as I volunteered to cover a night shift, 9pm – 8am.
But there was also the challenge of recognising how fortunate I am. I have a house, family that cares about me, food in the cupboards, money in my wallet, a change of clothes in the wardrobe and a job that provides fulfilment. So often we take these things for granted and forget to be thankful for them.
Then there was the rewarding part of serving. Knowing that my small sacrifice (giving up my comfortable bed and a night’s sleep) was making a difference. Our presence on the team, meant those men and women had somewhere safe, warm and comfortable to sleep.
By spending time talking to the guests, we demonstrated their value, and in the morning we ensured they were fed before facing another cold day out on the streets.
As the New Year is still in its infancy, may I encourage you to make 2016 a year where you are thankful for the big and little things in life. May I also encourage you to consider volunteering to help with one of the many roles at the night shelter next year, even just one shift can make a big difference.
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