Bishop Christopher writes...
I have just returned from my annual pre-Advent retreat and I have been reflecting on the past year and preparing for Advent and Christmastide when we welcome the Christ child again. In the last few days it has turned cold and I could not help but reflect that many will find this time of year especially hard because of that. I am sure that, like me, you have noticed that there seem to be more street homeless now than there were a year ago. As I walk down Borough High Street from the Cathedral towards Trinity House, the Diocesan Offices, I am aware that there are many people whom I see day after day and it is partly for this reason that, once again, I will be joining the large numbers of people sleeping out at the Cathedral as part of the annual fundraising drive for the Robes Project.
Robes provides a meal and a bed as well as other services for the homeless in churches of different denominations in the Boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark during the winter months. I am Patron of Robes and support them and Glass Door and other work with the homeless throughout our Diocese. The work that our churches do to help those in need is truly impressive and I want to thank all who share in this good work. Advent is a time for us to renew hope as we recall what we each have, giving thanks to God for his many gifts to us. In the coming weeks I hope that you will want to spend time considering the Holy Scriptures prayerfully as you prepare once again to welcome the Christ child into our world.
There are many things which are uncertain as I write: we do not know the outcome of the General Election or if, and when, Brexit will happen. Our society can feel increasingly fragmented and it is those who live on the margins of our society who often suffer the most. As you look forward to Christmas and think about how you will spend it with friends and family, please think about those whom you know who may not have others with whom to spend Christmas. So many, like the Holy Family, find that they do not have somewhere to stay or people to be with and I hope that, like the innkeeper, you will want to welcome the stranger at this Christmas time.
May I wish you and your families a blessed Advent and a holy and joyful Christmas.
Due to the events on London Bridge on 29 November, the Robes Sleepout couldn't take place. You can read a statement from the Robes Project and find links to donate at https://robes.org.uk/news/2019/12/3/update-about-the-sleepout