As anyone in my family will tell you, I am a loyal and joyful observer of Advent. A gilt wreath we were given as a wedding gift from the minister who married us sits on our dining table and the candles are lit one after another as the 4 Sundays of Advent pass. There are exactly 4 different calendars up, the 15 year old home-sewn one in need of repair bringing the most pleasure to all. Journeying through December, the children eagerly wrangle over who gets to open the chocolate calendar today; we plan family activities that deepen our experience of Advent involving music, giving, decorating, baking and lots of fresh air! Each year they get braver about lighting and blowing out the ivory countdown candle that is lit every evening. We spend time reveling in the drawing in of the season and the meaning of Advent whilst also enjoying the unbridled joy of children anticipating Christmas…rejoicing together when it finally arrives!
I love being a fundraiser, my work allows me to find the perfect synergy between a real, pressing need in our community and the loving willingness to help our neighbours that we see time and again in our supporters. Writing to you this winter, I feel lucky to be in this role. I have been overwhelmed by the gifts and commitment to giving that have been shown to Street Connect, and I hope that over the coming year our relationship with our supporters will only deepen.
This fulfilling work allows me to reach out and ask people like you to continue helping us, especially in winter when life on the streets can become unbearably hard and problems magnified as the commercial side of Christmas races on with the pressure to purchase expensive gifts and treats seemingly unending, and demands being screamed from every screen and shop front. The real Christmas sits in the flickering flame of an Advent candle in the light that is present and inextinguishable throughout the darkness. This is where hope lies, where peace everlasting is found.
I am humbled to be supported not only by other committed staff (whose dedication to Street Connect impresses me daily) but by our loyal, generous supporters. By responding positively to our very simple ask sent out on 3rd December, people have shown us that they will stand alongside us and help those who need it most at this cold, often dark and sadly very lonely time of year. To everyone who has supported this cause – thank you so very much. Whilst giving out warm clothing helps in that moment, what Street Connect really aims to do is make a lasting connection, and your money will help us bring the opportunity for change and the gift of hope to our neighbours.
Jesus asks us to love one another. It is that simple. Being a fundraiser it gives me great pleasure to show people a tangible way they can display that love – by helping strangers. John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” As Christians, we know this passage, we can recite it and seek new meaning in it all the time. This Christmas, let us show this love as much as possible, and although we are bombarded with requests and letters and emails suggesting all the ways we can help all the needs around us and in our world, I hope for us all that we can discern those causes that best serve our personal faith. May we feel able to show God’s love in action whether it is making a financial gift or simply taking time to pray for those living on the streets this winter.
As Advent draws us in towards Christmas, take time to reflect on the meaning you find in this season of hope, peace, joy and love. Rejoice in the pressing forward of time, smile at the shared ritual of candles and calendars. Love is like a candle shining in the darkness.
Peace be with you all in this season.
This blog post was written by Catriona Yates, Individual Giving and Legacy Fundraiser at Street Connect.