This afternoon at our Drop In, we used some pictures of nativity scenes to guide our thoughts. We had a good conversation, and some folk chose a picture to take home with them - the photo is those left afterwards.
However, for me the more beautiful image was one I could not photograph, partly because the torrential rain and icy wind would have made it nigh on impossible, but more importantly because it would just have been exploitative and just plain wrong.
Imagine, if you can, a man and woman dressed inadequately for the weather - he in a short wind-cheater type jacket, she in a brightly coloured anorak, unzipped, and worn over a thin summer dress. Now imagine that he allows her to take his arm - despite being someone who avoids all physical contact - and walks, slowly, so slowly, with her along the rain-soaked street en route to a cafe where they will seek shelter and warmth, enjoy a hot drink and wait for the weather to improve.
This is sacrficial love.
And this is what I witnessed this afternoon as one of our Friends from the Drop In acted, without a second thought, to care for another of them.
As busy people rushed to pass them, barely glancing, en route to the warmth of their own homes, I found myself alert to the people that I hurtle past without a seoncd thought, just because I don't know them.
In my mind's eye, as I walked behind, alongside, and finally in front of them, they could have been Mary and Joseph. When we finally reached their destination, I held open the door of the cafe, another friend handed back to the woman a bag she had been carrying for her, and we left them in the warm fug of chip fat and damp clothes. I walked on, a little more humble, a little more thoughtful.
Nativity scenes are always everso clean and tidy. Today I was reminded by two vulnerable adults of the truth that it would have been 'anything but'.