The Right Reverend Mark Bryant, former Bishop of Jarrow:

I met Danny just before nine o’clock one spring morning as we were both waiting for the Basis Drop-in to open. “I’m buzzing” he greeted me “I’m getting my key at eleven o’clock and I am buzzing”. This was the day Danny was at last to get a key to his own place and he had brought a couple of shirts to get them washed so that everything could be right before he moved into his new place.

All I could do was share in his joy and excitement – and be somewhat relieved that I knew that Oasis Community Housing staff would be around to support him – on this new adventure. My joy and excitement was that here was somebody who was just getting ready for a new adventure and for whom the future at last looked good and full of promise. The words of Jesus flashed into my mind “I came that they might have life and have life in all its fullness” (John 10.10).

It felt that at last Danny was getting a new glimpse of that fullness and richness of life which, as Christians, we believe God desires for every single one of his children. What I have learned over the years is that homelessness is not the real issue for many who find their way to Oasis Community Housing. Many of those who come are homeless because they have experienced often many traumas in their lives.

Early life has often been difficult and that has made it difficult as they grow up to form good and healthy relationships. It has meant that life has sometimes become unhelpfully chaotic and sometimes the pain of just being alive has been so great that the only way to dull the pain is through alcohol or other drugs.

Funding or holding down a tenancy has become simply impossible.

Circumstances have made it harder for them to glimpse that fullness of life which may have come a little more easily to others. That means that Homelessness Sunday is about far more than a concern for people who find themselves sleeping rough or living in totally inadequate housing, it is about enabling people to start to discover something of that fullness of life that is God’s desire for every member of the human family.

Over the summer the Archbishop of York – somewhat misrepresented in the secular press – spoke of the importance of the word “our” in the “Our Father” prayer. He was reminding us that God is the father of all of us. There is nobody to whom God is not father, which means, of course, that all human beings are our brothers and sisters in God. Homelessness Sunday reminds us that those who find themselves homeless or vulnerably housed are our brothers and sisters and that therefore we cannot ignore what is happening to them nor what has happened to them.

Homelessness Sunday asks us what we can do not just about people who find themselves homeless but also about a society which makes it so difficult for so many to even glimpse fullness of life as they grow up.

It would be wonderful if churches up and down the country could mark Homelessness Sunday as a time to pause and reflect and ask what God is asking of us who love in a nation where the fullness of life that God desires for everyone is so difficult to find. It is a time too to be thankful for Danny and the many others who are starting to discover what it can really be like.

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