Dear Inner Circle,
This week I received a little note of gratitude from a visitor. Usually I would fill the next few paragraphs with my own tales and musings from Wayside Chapel as seen through my eyes, but for my final note of the year I think it best you hear from someone else. Hopefully it reads like a love letter addressed to you. As we approach Christmas, I’d also like to express our deepest gratitude for the continued support and care that you’ve helped us provide. The collective impact that we’ve made on the lives of people in our community this year has been astounding, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
It is around this time of year that I often think of all the wonderful staff and angels at Wayside Chapel.
Everything that Christmas symbolises is more than evident in the lives and people that surround and support the Wayside Chapel.
One of the most important messages is that of hope, and Wayside gives that out in abundance.
It is at these times that many people find themselves without hope, love, or a sense of belonging or security that Wayside’s arms reach out to find them. Offering without judgement, boundaries or bias… a rope of survival, caring and love, of kindness and compassion and of a place where when lost, hope can be found.
I found myself in this place often, when there seemed to be no end or no way out or when all else had fallen down around me. At these times Wayside Chapel offers hope. Hope of a future providing a safety net if you fall… and help to find solutions in such a wide array of circumstances that don’t discriminate.
So, at this special and sacred time of year, when I sit in my humble abode (which Wayside helped me to secure), I recall a time when I was homeless and helpless. When I decorate the Christmas tree and think about the Star of Bethlehem lighting the path, I think of the Wayside Chapel which was the only bright star in a city night so bleak and cold.
The guiding light leads to Wayside, just as the Star led to Bethlehem. As I tuck my child into her bed (provided by Wayside too), all warm and cosy, I think of the baby Jesus in a manger and the Inn keeper who welcomed Mary and Joseph to offer a place of warmth and comfort. Just as Wayside offered me hope when I was pregnant and due to give birth, with no place to call home. When my children unwrap gifts (also facilitated through Wayside) on Christmas morning, I see the morning light shine bright through my window and I consider my journey. I think about the time when hope was diminished and my eyes were dry from tears. Now the tears that fall are of happiness, of thanks and gratitude, of believing that when there was nothing, that Wayside was my all. And how everyone who supports Wayside Chapel should be thanked for the hope that is so needed and appreciated, that reaches into the hearts and homes of those less fortunate. And for this hope and love, I could never be so grateful and so rich in the happiness I hold and cherish so dear. As I hear the laughter of my children playing, the Christmas joy surrounds them. Wayside Chapel is never far and always open.
God bless and thank you from our hearts to yours. No words could express how much you have helped us and how grateful we are, but I thought I’d try to express this through this small note.”
Upon reflection, that’s why on Christmas Day Wayside Chapel will be making gravy, and plenty of it at our Christmas Street Picnic and into the new year, so that we can extend that “rope of hope” to all people who are drowning in despair.
This is the final note for a little while, but I’ll be back in your inbox late-January 2022 with renewed vigour and hope for the new year ahead.
Thank you for being a precious part of our Inner Circle for another year. Merry Christmas and stay safe and well during the holiday season.
Pastor & CEO
PS. If you would like to and haven’t already done so, I would be so grateful if you could please make a donation so we can continue to be there for all of our community this Christmas and beyond into the new year. Donate now.
PPS. If you want to stay connected with us while this note is having a rest, we will be streaming our Chapel Services online every Sunday at 11am throughout the holiday season. We are not much like a church, which might just suit you if you are not much like a Christian. Join us here.