Dear Inner Circle,

Mornings are a favourite time and no two are the same. Today I was beckoned by a man with a wizened old face but arresting, sparkling eyes. Before a word was spoken, I knew an important announcement was about to made. “I’m a changed man,” he proclaimed without any indication about what he was referring to. “I haven’t had a smoke in three days but I had a dream and it was all about you, Pasta”. I was all ears. “In my dream you walked up to me and gave me a packet of cigarettes and now, here you are!” He grew brighter, “It’s like a miracle!” Well, sometimes I’m called an angel of deliverance and sometimes, as in this situation this morning, I’m more like an angel of disappointment. The offer of love and presence is a severe disappointment to someone who would prefer a gift of cigarettes. Every Christmas the Wayside message is about “presence” not “presents”.

Our Sunday congregations are meeting again face to face. Such a happy, warm, inclusive community is a rare thing on this earth these days. What would be unwelcome interruptions in most churches, are valuable contributions at Wayside. One of our regulars, who mostly speaks in florid and incoherent ways, suddenly spoke a truth with deep, paralysing clarity. “All my life I’ve craved the love of my father”. He soon returned to babble but the truth was out and in the air. Unless you were trying to listen, you might have missed it but for those with ears to hear, a deep insight into the man’s soul was offered and it caused us to love him more. Such a small, easily overlooked gem of a moment – not unlike the birth of a child at the back of a pub, resting in a feed trough among the animals. After our Sunday gathering, I spent some time with a man who continually gets into conflict with the tree at the front of our building. He explained that the tree regularly accuses him of being an alcoholic. Is there anything worse than a judgmental tree? I guess it’s just what happens sometimes around here!

At the end of this weird year, I want to offer congratulations to all for making it to this point. It has been a year where we truly embraced “Love over Fear” together, looked outwards, and achieved some great things. You, our dear Inner Circle, have been part of this journey and I invite you to read our latest annual report. I truly suspect the first half of next year will continue to be extraordinarily tough with the gap between the richest and poorest continuing to increase. There is no other place I’d rather be than right here and I’m so aware of the staff and volunteers at my side and of so many donors and supporters who make all of this possible.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

This Christmas, make sure no one in our community is left behind and donate to our Appeal here. 

Jon Owen

Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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