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A Christmas Reflection from Kieran

Last week I read a headline on The Independent news website that said:

‘One in five Brits does not know Jesus Christ born on 25 December’.

I have good news for them – he almost certainly wasn’t!

In the story we hear again each Christmas, we remember that the shepherds were out watching their flocks by night – it was much more likely to have been springtime when the sheep and their lambs needed more protection from predators, but we simply don’t know the exact date of Jesus’ birth.

The rest of the news article revealed that in fact 20% of people surveyed didn’t know what we celebrate at Christmas – not that they didn’t ‘know’ Jesus was born on 25th December, but that they didn’t know it marks the celebration of his birth.

So what do we celebrate, and how did we come to celebrate it in December?

We remember:

  • a baby born in poverty
  • a family who relied on the hospitality of strangers and fled persecution to seek refuge in a strange country
  • a boy who ran away from his parents
  • a man who lived in obscurity for most of his life until he began to preach a radical message of peace, justice and love – a message that would eventually get him killed.

Actor Robert Powell as Jesus in the 1977 TV mini-series Jesus of Nazareth

The survey on which the article in The Independent was based was done by the History Channel to mark the launch of its new four-part documentary series The Real Jesus of Nazareth. It is hosted by Robert Powell, the actor most famous for playing the title role in the 1970s TV miniseries Jesus of Nazareth which was first broadcast forty years ago.

People my age and older could be forgiven for thinking the historical Jesus looked like this pale-skinned, blue-eyed European, when in fact he was more likely to be ‘a man of middle-eastern appearance’ like those some of our politicians today would like to keep out.

Jesus was notorious for spending time with people whom the leaders of his day found scandalous – women, prostitutes, tax collectors, widows, foreigners, children – the least, the lowest and the lost of his society. He became known as the Son of God – yet he also came to show that we are all beloved children of God [1 John 3:2].

He told us:

‘I have come so you might have life in all its fullness’ [John 10:10].

He showed us how to live fully, love wastefully and be all we can be, so we might help others do the same.

He lived on the edge of his society, with courage, integrity, dignity and hope, to show us how to do the same.

He said:

‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life’ [John 8:12].

So one of the reasons we celebrate his birthday in mid-winter is the same reason our pre-Christian ancestors celebrated their feasts at this time for thousands of years – on 25th December, the darkest day is past, and the light will come again, in more ways than one.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we remember all that he did and all that he gave to show us a way of peace, justice and most importantly, love.

This was my reflection for the YMCA Liverpool Carol Service at Liverpool Parish Church on Thursday 14th December. It is my privilege to be a chaplain in this vulnerable and transforming community.

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Liverpool Accommodation Based Support – Festive Breakfast Meeting

Our friends at New Start hosted our Festive Breakfast Meeting this morning and we were really well looked after – take a look at the pictures to see what a fantastic breakfast buffet Deanna set out for us!

There was plenty to talk about today and we were pleased to have a number of partners joining us. We are trying out a new logo and making plans to reach more people next year through the use of our websites and social media platforms – keep an eye out for our updates in the New Year!

We also launched our year 1 Annual Report, looking at some of our key stats following the first year of working together. These are summarised in the presentation below:

Breakfast Event dec 17

To round off the meeting we talked through some of the ways we have adapted our work as we strive to meet the needs of a wider group of people, including partnerships with Health and Harm Reduction practitioners to provide a full support service that is based in the accommodation. So far, we are seeing higher levels of engagement with this approach.

As a reminder Liverpool Accommodation Based Support Consortia is YMCA Liverpool and:

Nacro
Nugent
Plus Dane
New Start
Local Solutions
NWPC

For more information about any of our services please get in touch here

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Give free gifts of kindness this December.

‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible’ – Dalai Lama

 

So, you’ve survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and maybe had a little left over for Giving Tuesday?

 

Let’s not forget that December is a marathon, not a sprint. It may be the ‘most wonderful time of year’ for some, it can also be the most expensive and challenging time of the year for many.

 

It’s important to remember that giving gifts is not just about sharing ‘stuff’ – we can give so much in so many ways: time, attention, thoughtfulness.

 

It’s traditional to count the days to Christmas – some count with an Advent calendar, some count the number of days they have left to shop, or the number of sleeps til Santa comes!

 

Maybe this year, try counting the days with kindness – for yourself and others. This Kindness Calendar suggests random acts of kindness each day in December 2017 to help spread a little more happiness in our communities. It goes right through to New Year too – if you find some of these that make a difference, maybe they could make positive resolutions for 2018 too?

If any of the suggestions don’t work for you, why not double up on another from a different day, or get creative and choose your own?

You can download the Kindness Calendar as an image file or as a PDF file for printing out. Please pass it on to others – kindness is a free gift!

Source: Action For Happiness

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The Soul in The Machine

YMCA Liverpool are working in partnership with YMCA Wirral and YMCA St Helens to  host a special performance  of  The Soul in The Machine,  a play about the life of YMCA founder George Williams.  Commissioned by YMCA and created by Saltmine Trust the play will transport you back in time to Victorian London and tell the story of the country boy who finds himself in London to find his place in the world.

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Senior Leadership Team Update

We were sorry to say bye to Leanne but really pleased to welcome Les Ball back in an Interim Finance Director role. Ellie is currently on maternity leave with her baby boy but is keeping in touch with us. While Ellie is away, we are being supported by Justin Hill, CEO of YMCA St Helens.

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Visit to Back in Focus

Tracy Emin is a controversial artist. Her turner prize nominated work, My Bed often evokes strong reactions from art lovers and loathers. The artwork itself cannot be categorised as unsuccessful, each way you assess My Bed it is has over achieved. FIND OUT MORE


Chartered Institute of Housing Level 3 in Supporting Homeless People

The course will be starting near the end of April beginning of May, for further details please contact david.allen@liverpoolymca.org.uk

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CAT Tweeting at Liverpool YMCA

At Liverpool YMCA we take the psychological well being of our residents extremely seriously. As a result we have worked hard to develop our staff with Cognitive Analytical Behaviour skills. To find out more information about CAT at Liverpool YMCA you can follow us on Twitter @CAT_LYMCA and read the article here

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Poem Workshop 2015

Matty has been stationed on the front desk at The City of Liverpool YMCA for many years; he is the stable, trusted and reliable face of the service Liverpool YMCA provides for the City. A few years back he was part of a drama workshop, staff and residents used improvisation and poetry to express their thoughts, feelings and anxieties, these being current or historic.

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