Bishop of Ely Revd Stephen Conway's Christmas message
PUBLISHED: 15:18 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:18 18 December 2017
Every year, in churches and cathedrals across the country, carol services begin with the lights down and the first solo verse of 'Once in royal David's city'.
The second verse of that carol reminds us that Jesus’s “shelter was a stable and his cradle was a stall”.
Jesus was born in poverty, in temporary and inadequate accommodation.
Imagine giving birth in an outbuilding, and having nowhere other than an animal’s feeding trough to lay your newborn.
The number of homeless people in the UK has more than doubled since 2010, and is rising sharply in this part of the country. The statistics are shocking: nearly half of homeless people suffer with mental health issues, but for many the support services they need aren’t there when they need them.
A recent rough sleeping count in Wisbech found nine people sleeping rough.
This is in addition to the eighteen in the night shelter run by the Ferry Project, and forty-four in hotel and move-on accommodation.
The good news is that projects like the Christian-based Ferry Project are there to help support vulnerable people who face a variety of difficulties, and to be good news to them.
At Christmas, Christians celebrate the birth of Christ who brought light and hope into the darkness.
I encourage you to seek him among the most vulnerable in our communities, and to do whatever you can to bring light and hope to them.
Many carol services end with the reading of the Christmas Gospel, which tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.
God has become human and moved into the neighbourhood.
We might find him lying on a cardboard box in the doorway of a Christmas shop.