I love Christmas adverts – the earlier the better for me. You should really go and watch the Disney and McDonalds ones, you will thank me! I love the cheeriness of them, the hope they bring and the creativeness of the season. This year they all seem to focus on two things: family and home! After the year we’ve had I understand why the big companies have chosen to focus on those – we’ve needed family more than ever this year and we’ve spent so much time at home.
But how does this relate to our guests at the Overnight Welcome Centre? Our guests don’t have a place to call home just now and they may not have contact with their family.
How has this year been for them?
How do they feel when they see the Christmas adverts?
How will they be feeling at the prospect of spending a Christmas in the welcome centre?
This is my fourth year being involved with the Overnight Welcome Centre, formally known as Glasgow Winter Night Shelter. I have had the privilege of working on Christmas Day the last two seasons. People assume it must be great to work there at Christmas as it is an incredible opportunity to reflect Christ to those we come into contact with. But in reality, it is actually a very solemn night. On Christmas Eve that you begin to realise that the guests in front of you truly have nowhere else to go. So we become their family for Christmas. Glasgow City Mission welcomes our guests into our safe home.
So what does our home look like? How do we as a team create a welcoming, loving space for people who have nowhere else to turn – especially on one of the most celebrated days of the year? We welcome the stranger (Mathew 25:35), we show hospitality without grumbling (1 Peter 4), we value others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
Most importantly, we love our neighbour because Love loved us first (John 13:34). We aren’t there to judge or feel sorry for anyone. That’s not what we are called to do. We are called to provide a safe place for someone to sleep so they do not sleep rough – by doing so they may catch a glimpse of who Christ is to them.
What will your home look like this year? How can you welcome people in during a Covid year – think creatively. Take every opportunity to take your home with you and welcome people in. It can’t always about the physical building, we’ve felt that in our churches this year. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and he will. People are lonely this year and hurting. We carry the hope for people – let’s decide to share it this year!
I’ll end on this, our guests will have a home for Christmas. They will be welcomed into our home. It may look different from our traditional understanding of home but it will be powerful because the presence of God will dwell there.
Overnight Welcome Centre Manager