Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ark the 'erald Angels Sing

It was a privilege and an experience to visit Ark on Christmas eve. A lot of the people here are "between a rock and a hard place" and find a refuge in Ark. Ark is a Horsham charity for people who are homeless or who have drug or alcohol abuse problems.

Many have experience of prison and living on the streets. Even in leafy Horsham this is no joke. The United Reformed Church provided their premises for the Christmas period and the hall was decorated for Christmas and food was collected at local churches.

Some of the people who come have severe mental health problems and have suffered abuse; some can't cope with the idea of living in a house. Some can't talk about things. Others can't stop. And my job – apart from a bit of judicious Information Technology and spud peeling – is to listen, and learn.

It is the only time I have seen the smokers congregating outside a church as if it were the pub.

We don't believe in shoving Christianity down people's throats. Ark's Christianity is the sort that shares our food with people who haven't got enough. We have a first-class cook and no shoving is necessary.

The URC is just opposite my own church: St John's Catholic Church. At 11 there was midnight mass at St Johns. For many people it was their first midnight mass. One of the guys thought he was conducting the congregation from the balcony but he didn't disrupt anything. The carols were all familiar and nobody was shy about joining in.

And who knows they might be tempted to come to Mass some other time too.

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