Dear Inner Circle,
It’s a funny time of year, right now in the blur between Christmas and New Year, when the rush and adrenaline of December gives way to lazy days where it feels like the holiday will never end.
The emptiness when the tinsel comes down, and the outpouring of loving energy dwindles, can be particularly confronting for people who find themselves alone, without a sense of belonging. I’m reminded of the crucial “rope of hope” a visitor told me about last year. We might not have a magic wand, but we can use our hands and hearts to throw a rope of survival, of kindness and compassion, to someone who is feeling lost at this time.
I’d like to thank everyone who helped to ensure Wayside’s Christmas Day Street Party returned to full swing after two years of restrictions. What a wonderful, joyous atmosphere, a place where everyone – no matter their circumstances – had food to eat, a table to eat at and a host of old and new friends to eat with. As usual, our volunteer spots were oversubscribed but up to the morning of Christmas Day we had generous folk calling and messaging, wanting to know how they could get involved. Our answer was, please come to Kings Cross and celebrate with us. Sit at our table, and over prawns and turkey, turn to the person next to you, and say G’day. Here you’ll connect with people whose lives are truly different and yet whose needs and dreams for love and belonging, joy and healing are just the same as yours.
And so, they did, many arriving as strangers, leaving as friends. Rocking the dance floor, sitting side by side while digging into the world’s best Christmas pudd, and living our mission of a community with no ‘us and them’. I got lost in the joy of the day and pronounced that we had enough “custard to drown an elephant” on the nightly news. Sometimes metaphors get mixed when love and joy takes over.
The most important message of Christmas time is that the most precious gifts come in the smallest and most easily overlooked of packages and places. In a hurry you can forget to take a moment to share in the hope and love and connection that invites us to participate in life. Fortunately, at Wayside we give those out in abundance all year long. Our response to moments of crisis, our response to loneliness, and to our broken world has always been and will always be – to welcome everybody, no matter their circumstances, with open arms.
Our colourful history is filled with moments and events when the logical response should have been to give up – but here we are still, keeping those who live on the margins of society at the centre of our love and concern. Because Wayside is and has always been about the triumph of hope over despair, of love over hate. It’s not the naïve belief that things will magically get better for people; it’s the belief, learned from almost 60 years of experience, that together we have the strength to keep on caring for the most beautiful people at their worst moments, so they are not alone.
Thank you, precious Inner Circle, for helping us never give up hope that tomorrow may be the day that the sun breaks through.
Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
P.S There’s something special about seeing your impact in colour, so please, take a look at all you helped achieve last financial year, by reading our annual report.