We are invited to dream dreams that can never be achieved. We are tempted to live out fantasies that are not attainable. Whether that dream of a white Christmas is realised or not remains to be seen. One suspects that in all too many households the fantasy of the ideal family celebration will not be realised.
Will the people who walked in darkness really see a great light? Will there be endless peace? Will there be justice and righteousness from this time onward and forevermore? Will the wolf live with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the kid? Will a little child really lead them? Will they cease to hurt and destroy on my holy mountain? Will the earth really be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea?
Is all of this no more than a dream … an idle fantasy, lumped in with all the other trappings of Christmas and then to be quickly forgotten?
I believe that what’s going on inside these readings is something very different.
says the Lord.
If people are to dwell in houses they call their home, we cannot turn a blind eye to homelessness.
If people are to eat the fruits of the earth, we cannot turn a blind eye to those who are hungry … neither can we turn a blind eye to issues of unemployment if people are to enjoy the work of their hands.
We are called to be peacemakers and given a ministry of reconciliation because this is what it’s like when God’s rule takes a hold: the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, they shall not hurt or destroy.
The great Christmas readings are not the stuff of dreams or fantasy, they shape what we are to do here and now.
That is why this Christmas we have identified four things that we are supporting:
1. last week’s Gift Sunday focused on the people who come to our Day Centre,
It was after visiting the deprived village of Sika in The Gambia, that Jennifer Taylor (founder member of the charity) was inspired to build a medical centre in memory of her late sister Lilian Elizabeth.
Lilian had spent time in the Gambia before her unfortunate premature death and had always enthused about how friendly and warm the people were, despite their hardships.
Jennifer's inspiration came from experiencing this warmth & friendliness first hand and after witnessing the devastating effect that both malaria and the lack of medical treatment is having on the villagers.
Malaria is the biggest cause of death in the Gambia.
The village has no electricity and the living conditions are very basic. To date Jennifer has already improved their standard of living by funding the building of a well. In an attempt to reduce the incidents of malaria and with the aid of generous donations, she has also been able to supply 500 mosquito nets to the families in the village.
The cost of building the medical centre will be around £50k but to maintain it, we will need £5k per annum by way of donations and subscriptions.
The centre itself will be staffed predominantly by locals, as it is important to retain their cultures and beliefs. Occasionally volunteers from the UK will visit and help out in any way they can.
Jennifer also wishes to introduce a feeding programme, as during several months of the year they have little or no food.
Please note. All monies donated go straight to the charity as there are no overheads or wages taken by the volunteers.
For further details on how you can help, for updates on how the medical
centre is progressing and photographs of recent visits please visit the Lilian Elizbeth Fund website