Boxing Day - the first day of my post-Christmas 'down time'. Catching up on the last few emails, posting a few things on social media and something here, then it will be time to switch off the laptop and enjoy some time simply to be.
One lovely task this morning was sending a quick email thanking some of our Gatherers for all they had done in the Advent and Christmas season (OK technically it's still Christmas until either 6th Jan or 2nd Feb but you know what I mean). As I did so, I was struck that, without consciously setting out to do so, we had pretty much covered all the clauses in the parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matt 25) that lies at the heart of my understanding of ministry.
I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink
Christmas lunch served to over fifty people including homeless men, lonely widows, people with metal health and addiction concerns. Full bellies and warm hearts... a lovely way to spend the day.
I was a stranger and you welcomed me
We had so many visitors over the season, and yesterday morning a family from Somerset, the biannual visit from a family in London, returning friends from Orkney, who swelled our numbers and brought joy and a bigger perspective to our worship.
I was naked and you gave me clothing
We have supported assorted charitable appeals, locally, nationally and globally. Clothes formed part of our giving to the Salvation Army appeal; many gave clothes to appeals for refugees; we contributed in lieu of Christmas Cards and via our Advent reflection collection to the Christain Aid appeal
I was sick and you took care of me
Our congregation includes a number of medical professionals, and also people who care for family members. As well as that we chose to give the retiring collection from our carol service to a local cancer charity which will, we know, use some of it to bring precious moments to very sick people
I was in prison and you visited me
One of our folk is a prison visitor, and I'm sure was very active in recent weeks. But prisons are not always physical detention centres, even one's home can become a prison when age, infirmity or illness take their toll. Care homes and private homes were visited, communion shared, carols sung, gifts given
No, we are not a special church, and no we don't do any of this that we may boast, and no I'm not sharing this out of smugness. It was only as I began to reflect on all we had participated in that I realised we had unconsciously done it right! Not perfect, not without the odd grumble or stumble, but we had done really well.
And the profound mystery is that in every penny donated to charity, in every plate of food served or glass of cola poured, in every hug exchanged, in every gift given, in every threshold crossed, we met Jesus in those we served. And here, too, is another profound mystery, that we, too, were to them the face of Christ!
It has been a very busy time - and I am ready to chillax with no internet, no phones, no contact with church for a little over a week. It has also been a blessed time, in which I have, despite myself, been reminded of what it's all about and why I can do nothing else!
May God bless all readers of this blog with love, laughter, hope and wholeness, now and in the as uncharted terrritory that is 2016.