WE all know we can’t possibly support every charity that asks for help. However very occasionally an idea promoted by a charity comes along that demands our attention and our reflection. I believe the ‘Sleep in the Park’ initiative spearheaded by Josh Littlejohn of Social Bite is one. Let me tell you why. First and foremost it is theologically sound.
Sleep in the Park – Social Bite Photo Gallery
It is incarnational in its practice and approach. It seeks to help us become people who engage with the plight of the homeless in order that we bring them out of that situation to a better place of sanctuary and security. To stand in another person’s shoes has biblical precedent. The incarnation reminds us that God became one of us in Jesus of Nazareth. In other words, God came into our world as a person in flesh and blood and began to touch and feel and understand what it was like to be a human. Not that he was becoming what he was not, but that he was becoming what he had made, in order that what he had made might become more like him. Jesus came into our human predicament, and on the cross, he became what we were in order to redeem our past and transform our future. In a strange way the ‘sleep out’ invites us to become a homeless person for just one night.
To take upon ourselves the bitterness of a cold December evening and reflect with others what it feels like to have no place to call home. For me this is a challenging opportunity for Christians to join with others to help create a mass movement that seeks to promote the common good of all. It is to lift the forgotten and the rejected ones and place them at the top table. To allow their voices to be heard. To encourage them through our actions to redeem the lost years of their lives, by showing kindness and empathy and by aiming to transform their future through the promise of a home of their own. An event like this can help create a sense of urgency and create a mass movement where government and industry and people of goodwill create a tipping point from which lasting benefits can be achieved. The aim of the sleep out is not only incarnational but inspirational.
It invites us all to lift our eyes from the gutter of despondency, where many of us see the size of the problem as too great and we feel overwhelmed and helpless. To begin to see what can be achieved when good people work together for the common good creates expectation and with the right leadership this expectation can be turned into a movement. I believe this is an opportunity for members of the Church of Scotland to stand with others and claim the vision that we can make homelessness a thing of the past within the next five years in Scotland.
All it takes is for good people one by one to begin to do something. So I am taking up the Moderator’s challenge and asking for 1000 members and friends and associates of the Church of Scotland to come and join with the Moderator and myself and another 8,000 people (including the Editor of this magazine) to help make this vision a reality. I am delighted that the organisers have agreed that Sanctuary First should have a Prayer Tent in the venue open to all to come and participate in prayer and we have a great deal to pray about. So why not get a team from your congregation to sign up and be part of the nightshift on December 9 and join us in the Sanctuary First Tent for some of the time in the wee hours of the morning. Join the sleep out at: sleepinthepark.co.uk
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