One of the highlights for me of our Christmas programme is the Carol Concert we host every year for adults with learning disabilities. This is a partnership between our own Hilltop group, Cameo and Challenge Club. This year was my favourite of all the ones I've ever attended, I just loved it!
One of the people who came this year was a lady called Ros Bayes, who came with her daughter Ellen who has a learning disability. Ros works for an organisation called Through the Roof, who have the brilliant vision statement of "Transforming lives through disabled people". How empowering is that!
After her visit Ros wrote a blog about her experience, and that of her daughter. It made my cry, as so much of what Ros describes is what the church we dream of is all about, trying to create a safe place where people from all backgrounds can feel at home, and can hear the dangerous message of the gospel in a way that the only offensive thing about it is the gospel itself. I really encourage you to read her blog, as it so emphasises the importance of everyone on our team playing their part, from the car parkers to the people serving drinks, to the way we interact with visitors to the way we set up our meetings. I can't tell you how much it encouraged me!
Please think about this as we come up to our carols by candlelight. Whether you're helping people park their cars, saying hello on the door, serving mulled punch, chatting to the people next to you, singing in the choir, playing in the orchestra, praying whilst I speak or giving up your seat so a visitor can have it, all of us have a part to play in helping people find their way back to God. Let's play that part with a smile, full of faith and ready to share the goodness of God with others.
ps - just to be clear I didn't make up the story about the three trees - it's from a children's book my wife Catrina recommended to me. It's very good though!