Advent Calendar Door #9 – Jesus is…in the community

Posted: December 9, 2015 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

Today’s reflection is the second in the YBA’s series of Advent reflections – see Door #2 for the first. This time it is written by Rev Ernie Whalley.

THE 2nd CANDLE of ADVENT

The 2nd Candle of Advent is the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Love. It reminds us of the place where Love came into the world in all its fullness.

Recently I was drawn to the strapline for one of our churches. Under the name of the church it stated ‘Meeting Christ in the Community’.

Where IS Christ in the Community? And how do we recognise him?

In Matthew’s Gospel we read the story of Jesus Christ exalted as the ruler of the world in glory – Matthew 25 verses 31 – 46. The story mentions 6 places where Christ is seen and this is repeated 4 times. When I read the story I find it challenging my limited horizons…

‘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, 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….. I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, YOU DID FOR ME’
(Matthew 25 verses 35,36,40)

Christ can be found in many places in our world and especially in the vulnerable…and who of us is not in need at some time? Christ identifies with the vulnerable. He is alive and often found in unexpected places. Incredible and startling!

I try to connect this story with a specific situation. At our church in New North Road, Huddersfield, I volunteer at our Reach project, which is a “drop in” for asylum seekers and refugees. I reflect on my experience at the “drop in” through the lens of this Gospel.

I see up to 50 folk enjoying hot food, with a smile. Christ is in them.

When I see them eager to learn English, hungering for knowledge of an unfamiliar language, Christ is there.

According to the Gospel, when I glimpse people having a hot drink on a damp, freezing Huddersfield morning, Christ is in them.

When a newcomer arrives, looking nervous I see them befriended by volunteers and other guests and soon they relax. We all seek to communicate, struggling with language, but a smile is universal. Christ is in them.

When friends are rummaging through the kindly donated clothes on the table, and happily select a warm garment, there is Christ.

Many are unwell, often through experienced trauma, and need medical support. Volunteers take them to register at the nearby medical practice. Christ is there.

One of our guests was taken recently to a detention centre and a couple of volunteers went to visit him. Christ is in them.

What do YOU think?

Meditate on this Gospel passage for yourself.

“Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in FRIEND and STRANGER”
(St Patrick’s Breastplate)

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