The very old hands around here will tell you that the most tension filled weeks at Wayside Chapel are the two leading up to Christmas Day. Not just because of the weight of people running to the finish line to get an impossible list of things done, but also the heavy weight of expectations in people’s hearts and minds. The streets are no different and the agitation is real. Luckily, we have some Christmas angels in our midst to lift and lighten everyone’s spirits.
Our darling Chantal, our Café Coordinator and long time Christmas Day volunteer, has been spreading her joy for others for the best part of 40 years. We all love her and are familiar with, “Chantal in her Christmas Zone” as we stand back and let her do her thing. She collects gifts for people with nothing, and is the giver of treats for all on Christmas Day. Everything she does comes from love, and close encounters may find themselves being yelled at whilst having their pockets filled with chocolates. Chantal received an Order of Australia for her service to community at Wayside Chapel, but l love that she never mentions it. In fact, if someone asks her about it, she doesn’t really understand why she was awarded a little badge in the first place. Chantal loves Christmas, she loves the people she serves and she loves a party. If you don’t have anywhere to go this Christmas Day, spend it with Chantal and our Wayside community at our Christmas Day Street Picnic. Register your spot here.
It’s also a season where we witness a tremendous outpouring of goodwill from the most unexpected community members. A random customer at our social enterprise Heart Cafe in Bondi, decided to give the people who served him a cash gift. He gave enough for the kitchen staff and wait staff to all receive a big tip. The money was nice, but the joy that was generated was priceless. Another fellow heard of a woman couch surfing while looking after twins with all of her belongings stored in the boot of a car. He offered to rent a house for this woman for two years. The woman had great difficulty believing the offer was real. The next day she phoned to say she couldn’t accept because, “It feels like I’m doing something wrong.” It took us some convincing that she was a worthy recipient, and our staff have had no trouble since locating a bed for the woman and the kids; a lounge and tv for her newly rented home. She’s suddenly set. In case heavy lifting is required, a couple of outlaw bikies known to us, covered in tattoos which act as as a kind of armour to protect their tender hearts, have offered to help move all of her stuff in.
Pause just long enough to ponder how much goodness has been unleashed because of the kindness of one fellow who immersed himself in a pool of love, to help someone he didn’t know. Pause till all your voices in your head that say, “Well what about all the other deserving people?” cease and just ponder how life for one woman and two kids just dramatically changed. Housing isn’t the only hurdle in front of them, but rest assured that two little kids will be sleeping in their own beds that will still be their beds tomorrow morning, Christmas Eve, and for two years ahead.
Thanks for being a part of our precious Inner Circle,
Pastor & CEO