What Can I Give
We are now fully into the season of Advent, and many of us in the northern hemisphere will generally be experiencing what Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-94) described so vividly in her beautiful Christmas poem, and later put to music by Gustav Theodore Holst in 1906, and so is still sung by many at this time of year – In the Bleak midwinter. The words which start off the final verse of this great carol has since inspired countless generations of those who approach Christmas with much more than casual acknowledgement, to consider what personal sacrifice they can make to greet the coming of Christ child into our world.
I am also convinced that the carol may also be the single reason for much of the mailings that came through my own letter box during this season of charity and generosity. So, faith or no faith, Christmas presents us all with both a challenge and rare opportunity. The challenge requires little by way of recognising that while some are warm, safe and supplied for in abundance; we are also given the opportunity to identify an area that is closest to our hearts which we may feel drawn to taking some small action to address.
In Britain, we are all too aware of the diversity and the increasing numbers of new charitable causes to which we are all capable of expressing individual acts of generosity or simple random acts of kindness. And then, of course there are causes which will generally cross any line of self-interest because we all recognise their relevance to us all.
On a recent visit to Kilkeel, Northern Ireland, I was struck by the significant number of local families who came together to support The Fishermen’s Mission team there during a commissioning ceremony in the work they do among the fishing communities in the province. The support which was both generous and sincere was in part due to the feeling within Kilkeel community for the local Mission staff, but also, and very significantly indeed, the shared feeling of support for the work among the fishermen themselves. After all, most of us eat fish, and if not, we all know or love someone who eats fish. So, what is the true cost of fish? I wonder! Giving to a charitable cause like the Fishermen’s Mission at Christmas time, in my experience, says quite simply that although the needs in our communities are varied, choosing to give in one direction, is actively sharing with others – in order to make a difference – but that difference, can often be made, not elsewhere, but very personally within the willing heart of the giver!
Revd George Ayoma