Dear Inner Circle,

Last Friday nearly 500 people gathered in Parramatta Park to participate in the Wayside Chapel’s Long Walk Home. Many walkers were members of this Inner Circle, and I was delighted to be able to meet many of you as we walked along the course. 28km was the distance selected because it is about the average distance someone without a home walks in a week just to access a place to sleep. As we walked, I asked a few people why they signed up to join us. “I’m walking for my sister who died on the streets” a woman told me; another man was walking for his dad who he hasn’t seen in a decade and worries where he might have ended up. Another person told me they were walking for their mum, who has a place to live but so easily could fall through the cracks. Then, right at the end, a young woman less than 20 years old whispered to me, “I am walking for me”. Even though many of us walking were in high spirits knowing that every step taken was helping someone in need, it was also a procession of broken hearts. Yet by walking together the burden for these people didn’t seem quite so heavy to bear as they were not alone. That’s the power of the Wayside community and reminds us that beyond answers, there is presence. Thank you to everyone who sponsored our walkers, I’m a little sore but grateful to you all.

It’s December, so we can talk a little about Christmas. The decorations are starting to go up and one of our staff members, who is a well-known face around these parts, has begun to do what she does best. For over 36 years, she has helped prepare our Christmas Street party…and she’s brilliant. I love that woman more than she knows. Nearly four decades of yelling at people and her dedication to collecting gifts and wrapping presents, is a testimony to the power of a lifetime of giving. We all know that when she is scolding us and bossing people around, she is really saying “I love you”. Since I’ve known her, I’d estimate she has told me “she loves me” at least a thousand times – and I’m still counting!

When I think about Christmas, I remember that it’s a story about a baby being born in an animal pen. It’s a tale that represents one of life’s all-time greatest contrasts and yet contains one of its greatest lessons. The joy, hope and love surrounding a newborn thrust amongst the mess of the everyday. The invitation to love always comes wrapped up in inconvenience. In the mess and rush of our everyday lives, we are provided an invitation to live life on life’s terms. The gold must be dug from the dirt, but it’s always worth it. My days are getting long at this time of year due to multiple engagements. The other night I was trying to escape exhausted down the alleyway when I was spotted by someone on the street “Farva, farva, farva! Stop there!” An old man was slowly hobbling towards me managing to stay upright while balancing a cup of coffee and a terrible limp from years of drinking and carrying a suitcase. I thought he was going to collapse in Orwell Lane, but he had the skill of an experienced balancing act. “Give me a hug, I love ya, you’re working hard, fanks! Now get home to your family”. With relief I collapsed into his embrace and buried my head in his shoulder, filled with a renewed sense of energy through this exchange with my brother. This is the time of year when acts of kindness hold a little extra power to change lives, mine included.

A reminder that on Christmas Day over 1,000 men, women and children will join us at Wayside Chapel for our Christmas Day Street Party in Kings Cross. It’s going to be a fabulous melting pot of personalities, and from the joy on people’s faces as they are dancing in the street, you won’t be able to tell who’s a politician, a celebrity, homeless or housed. It’s guaranteed to be Sydney’s best Christmas party, so why not come say hello and be merry with us.  If you are thinking of doing something meaningful this year, you can also ‘Donate a Plate’ to provide a Christmas Day lunch to help turn someone’s day from despair to delight and in return your name (or a loved one’s name) will be put on the plate to acknowledge your gift on Christmas Day.

We are always grateful, and thanks for being a part of this Inner Circle,

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

Want to receive the Inner Circle directly into your inbox every Thursday?

Subscribe Here