Dear Inner Circle,

Christmas is a time of year when the highs and lows of everyday life suddenly get a trampoline shoved underneath them. The increased amplitude of emotion within workplaces and shopping centre car parks often takes us by surprise as we react in ways we didn’t know we were capable of. For so many who are struggling with life, these swings can take them beyond the point of breaking. 

At lunchtime one of our visitors whispered into my ear, “I feel so lonely at this time of year”. When I asked why, he said, “Christmas hits hard”. For some people it takes them back to days of how life used to be and the distance between then and now is too painful a memory to hold in a broken heart. For others this time of year presents a stark realisation of everything that is missing in their life – family or friends to spend Christmas with, a roof over their head, food in the fridge – but most of all the love that is no longer there. The love we extend everyday requires a double measure at this time of year and I see the passion in the eyes of our staff and volunteers every day as they pour love into dry and thirsty hearts. For us this is not a season of magic. It’s about offering practical love, and so often it’s hard going. Our best efforts can be met with disbelieving anger or indifference. We work tirelessly in the face of self-destruction and we patiently wait to see new life born in the least likely places. This is not a romantic place, but there is always room at the inn.

I worked closely with Graham for years, and every year around Christmas I would see his mood begin to shift; feeling anxiety at the thought of asking our closest friends for the funds Wayside needs to continue delivering love and support to people who have nowhere to turn.

This is my first Christmas as Pastor and CEO of Wayside Chapel, and I now know the feeling that used to wash over Graham. It’s a feeling that those sleeping rough go through day in, day out. That feeling of having to ask something of someone who has already given so much love and generosity. Asking is never easy. But I know I need to, in order to ensure that we can continue to empower others to rebuild their lives when things fall apart. This Christmas we still need to raise $348,900 before 25 December to make sure everyone will continue to find the love and support they need here at Wayside – this Christmas and always. If you can make a donation, please do so.

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Leaving every interaction as if it might be the final one is well worth consideration. We received news that one of the deeply loved characters of Kings Cross had tragically died overnight. For this man, a troubled childhood had left him feeling like he was always on the outer and he soon drifted into the Cross working the bars and clubs. Addiction found him, or perhaps it was the other way around as he desperately searched for belonging. He did not find what he was looking for there, but he did when he walked into the Wayside where he was always welcome and never judged.  Gratefully our last conversation was seasoned with laughs and finished with an exchange of Christmas wishes. All of us who knew him are devastated, he was a giant of a man but behind his intimidating exterior was beating the kindest of hearts. Many early mornings we would find him sweeping and tidying up the front entrance and cleaning our windows as a gesture of his love for us. I was moved by the way our staff have rushed to provide comfort for his family, even while they are grieving. Christmas is a time of giving, and giving that comes from a broken heart is sometimes the most pure and beautiful. 

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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