"It's the time of year when our thoughts start to turn towards the end of the year. Yet, though less than a month to go, the New Year seems so far away. There is so much to be done, but will there be the time (or inclination) to be prepared for the coming year?
Of course, there's Christmas to prepare for. For many years my Mum worked in a Crossreach care home, so worked Christmas on a fairly regular basis. Consequently, my family's Christmas celebrations would often be placed on hold till Boxing Day or later in the week. But even in our busyness and at the time when families get together, those in our communities who need care still need that to continue, no matter the time of year. So, I ask you to remember those in care and those who work tirelessly to care for them.
Christmas, for many can be a lonely time too. For some, this may be the first Christmas since a loved one died. Or family live away and it's not possible to travel to see them. Sometimes, even the little routines people rely on – meals on wheels, carers coming into their home, going for the newspaper – stops. For most of us, the break from routine is welcome. It changes our prospective and allows a chance to recharge the batteries. Please, though, save a thought for those who need and rely on their routine.
But in amongst looking out for the lonely, the carers and the cared for, as a Christian community we need to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ into the world. God trusted a joiner and his wife with the responsibility of looking after his son. They were ordinary people, just like you and me. Ordinary people called upon to do something extraordinary. Look after God's son as their own.
Just like Mary and Joseph, we are called to look after God's son. For we do so whenever we feed the hungry, give a drink to someone who is thirsty or visit those imprisoned. We can do these all through the year, knowing whose we are and who we serve. At this time of year, it can sometimes mean more to the lonely. It shows they are not alone and they are loved by God.
So, as we head for the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, think about how you can give hope or love or peace or joy to someone in this community who needs it.