It’s that time of year again when we start getting ready at Church to welcome fifteen homeless men to our hall for bed & breakfast and a hot supper on Saturday nights.
It’s a project we do every winter, together with other local churches, so that these men have shelter and good hot food during the coldest months of the year.
We call it part of our ‘Community Engagement’ work and it definitely is a good thing and much appreciated.
But the interesting question each year, I feel, is who receives the most through the project. Is it the men or is it the volunteers?
On the face of it, the Winter Shelter is all about doing something for the homeless, doing something to help those in need. But, at the same time, it is about the homeless doing something for the volunteers, something to help us.
When the project comes to an end each year, I often thank volunteers and I am always surprised to hear how much they say they received from the work, how much they enjoyed it and found it enriching. The volunteers find getting to know the men a real privilege and many of the conversations they have shared have been uplifting and inspiring.
In the Gospels Jesus tries to show us that life is about what we give and not what we get. And to lose our lives, to give generously from all we have and all we are, is what an abundant life is all about.
This is how our lives will be measured in the end, at our funerals. Our lives will be valued by what we gave. And the greatest will be those who give the most. Like Jesus, who gave absolutely everything he was and everything he had, to deliver this simple but challenging message.
If you live in the Hounslow borough and would like to help with the shelter scheme, do please get in touch with me. There are lots of different jobs you might help with – from setting up beds, to cooking dinner, to socialising, to caretaking overnight, to cooking breakfast and tidying up.
Do something for someone else and find out what this does for you too.