At the heart of the Christmas story is a family who have no home. But they soon find they are not alone – local residents, shepherds, are soon on the scene bringing messages of good will and support.
I have been so moved by reading the very kind messages of encouragement that you, our supporters, have written in response to our Christmas appeal. Thanks to your continued support and generous donations, those who turn to Alabaré in times of crisis – will know that they are not alone at Christmas. Thanks to your continued support, we will be with them until they are ready to move into a home of their own.
On behalf of all those at Alabaré, may you, and your family, have a blessed and peaceful Christmas.
A Christmas Message from our Senior Chaplain, Keith Thomasson
It definitely was Christmas. Ice on the railway lines. Massive delays out of London Euston on Christmas eve. Crowds of people at the information point. Railway staff trying to be patient, attempting to explain again and again that as soon as information came in they would share it.
A well-dressed man strode to the front of the gathering. He indicated it was imperative he made the journey home as quickly as possible. He was heard and then invited to rejoin the queue and that his enquiry would be dealt with when it was his turn. The man became irate and asked, ’Do you know who I am?’ The member of staff turned on the microphone for announcements. She said, ‘Can someone please come and assist the gentleman at the information point? He does not know who he is.’
For some of you the BBC programme, ‘Who do you think you are?’ is fascinating. From Cheryl of the X Factor to Danny Dyer of East Enders and to Amanda Holden of Strictly Come Dancing. More locally, I suggest that when you visit your library you will see local history sections and courses on tracing ancestry. The fascination with who we are is not new. The biblical writers were also captivated with the subject and long lists of who begat who have been turned into comedy turns. Yet is there more to their potential impact than this? Let’s face it, who gives serious attention to the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1.1-17?
I suggest you read it through and identify the familiar names. In addition, ask yourself, ‘Who are the odd ones out?’ For me the ones of real interest are Tamar, Rahab, the wife of Uriah and Ruth. Three named women in a long list of men. Then a reference to Uriah the Hittite, with Uriah like the women being a non- Hebrew, an ‘outsider’. Uriah’s wife was Bathsheba. In delving deeper we find the stories around these people show lives that demonstrate a commitment to the values of righteousness, faithfulness, loyalty.
So what? I think that God works within the ancestry of Jesus with outsiders who actively demonstrate values that are reflected in the life of Jesus who is ‘God with us’. Mary, who here is interestingly married to Joseph, is in a line of strong and influential women who together have shaped history, living with the possibilities inherent in their everyday situations. Within Alabaré we have the privilege of encountering God in those we meet and being shaped by these interactions for good.
I ask, ‘Who do you think you are?’ and ‘Who do you think Jesus is?’ And in the company of the Holy family and their visitors at Christmas, I encourage you (in the words of John Updike), to become immersed in the ‘perpetual present tense of living’. Wishing you a blessed Christmas time.
December has been a busy month here at Alabaré. Christmas is not only a time of celebration but also a time to thank all our supporters and volunteers who have been there for us throughout the year. It is a time to remember those who are in need, those who do not have a roof over their head. It can be very isolating for those who have nothing. One in four homeless people spend the festive period alone (Shelter). We believe that no one should spend Christmas on the streets.
We need your help, read more about our Winter Appeal Homes not Streets here.
This year we are also working in partnership with Salisbury BID. Red collection boxes have been placed in shops across the city, we are asking shoppers to support the appeal. Please keep an eye out for the boxes when you are out and about and help us to transform lives by donating what you can.
Money raised will be helping people like Alex who after suffering profound loss in his life and ending up homeless, found new hope when living with Alabaré. Read his story here.
Newton Europe Festive Volunteering
A team of volunteers from Newton Europe dropped in to help us at three of our projects in the run up to Christmas. Every year the company set aside a day to help out local charities our the festive period. The groups were set to work across our charity, at Old Sarum Development Centre, tidying up leaves and trimming hedges. At Alabaré Place where the group cooked Christmas lunch for the homeless and at our Amesbury shop where they helped with the shop revamp. Tom who was one of the fantastic volunteers from Newton Europe said, 'Its been a fantastic day. I've had a truly amazing time and I've really enjoyed myself. Alabaré is a great charity and I feel honored to have been able to my bit to help out'
Meet our Longest Serving Volunteer
This month sees the 20th Anniversary of our longest serving volunteer, the wonderful Robert Stallard. Bob has been with us since 1996 and has seen the charity grow. He started off volunteering at Alabaré after he heard our founder, John Proctor talk at his local church in Broad Chalk. He wanted to help and having worked in Human Resources he found himself sharing his skills and volunteering in the admin office at Barnard's Cross. On behalf of all at Alabaré we would like to say a huge thank you to Bob.
Father Christmas has shown his support for Alabaré in Salisbury this year by setting up home in the city. An empty shop unit in Cross Keys Arcade was transformed into an enchanting Christmas Kingdom. Children enjoyed the magic of visiting Father Christmas with their lists of present wishes, and in return they received a small gift, kindly provided by Tiger. One visitor described it as, 'A beautiful set up with a very welcoming Father Christmas. The kiddies enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you.'
Looking Ahead to 2017
Registration is now open for The Big Sleep 2017, so don't delay, sign up today! Last year we were joined by almost 200 people on the night who collectively raised a staggering £25,000. Next year we would like to see even more of you there so please sign up as soon as you can!