Canon Paul Hackwood, Executive Chair of the Church Urban Fund writes to invite churches to join in the Advent Sleepout Challenge that they have introduced this year will catch on as part of the Advent activities of the church.
However we interpret the biblical texts, the narrative of the baby born in a stable is well engrained in the way we understand the Christmas story.
So I hope that your congregation will take this opportunity of reflecting on the Christmas story by actually spending a night outside the comfort of a bed and raising funds to help the marginalised people that church projects in very deprived areas are ministering to. We have provided special materials which you can find on our Advent Sleepout Challenge website.
The stable can be a hall, a barn or the church itself. By stepping out of the comfortable for a night and getting sponsorship from members of the congregation, the whole of the church can reflect on the Christmas story and vitally help those in need.
The proposed changes to Tax Credits for working families have come under great scrutiny. If they go ahead independent analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests that families with someone in paid work will lose out on average £550 per year after all the changes to taxes, tax credits and benefits are factored in. And think-tank Resolution Foundation calculates that one million single parents will be £1,000 a year worse off.
The effects of these changes may not become apparent in your parish but there are many parishes which will be hard hit. With support from the Advent Sleepout Challenge, Church Urban Fund continues to fund projects in dioceses that are reaching out to those in need, providing support and training that will enable people to escape the slavery of debt, poverty and isolation.