Portsmouth and Havant churches give shelter and warmth
By Ven Joanne Grenfell, the Archdeacon of PortsdownÂ Â
Having just celebrated Christmas, it may be that the words from the Nativity play are stillÂ ringing in your head.
'˜No room at the inn,'Â is the line that you may have heard in your child's play at the end ofÂ last term, usually uttered by children clothed in dressing gowns and tea towels.
Bethlehem was a tiny place, certainly not big enough for a public hotel. The word used in theÂ Gospel of Luke probably means an upper room, perhaps in the home of a distant relative.
Since there was no room there for unexpected guests, the expectant Mary and JosephÂ hadÂ to camp out downstairs, where the animals were kept.
If the place of Jesus' birth was even less cosy than the stables of our modern imaginations,Â then the gospel writers really are trying to tell us that Jesus, the Messiah, was born in the dirtÂ and grime of everyday life.
Christians believe that God came to be with us through the birth of his son, Jesus. ByÂ choosing the most ordinary of births, God demonstrates how absolutely he loves the wholeÂ of humanity, each one of us, whatever our background.
Churches across Portsmouth and Southsea are opening their doors this winter to giveÂ warmth, shelter, and friendship to the rising number of homeless people who are sleepingÂ rough in our city.
Seven different local churches are part of an ecumenical initiative to house 12 vulnerableÂ people every night for the next eight weeks. It startedÂ on Monday.
Volunteers will set up beds, provide food, and commit themselves not only to sharing a mealÂ and caring for rough sleepers, but also to supporting individuals to move on from homelessness.
In response to God's extraordinary intervention into the world, Christians are called uponÂ toÂ look after the lost, the last, and the least, tending to the poor and suffering '“ as weÂ remember that each of us can be as vulnerable as the tiny baby Jesus at the time of hisÂ birth.Â
Let's make sure this new year that there is room in our hearts for compassion to see eachÂ other's needs.