Christians Together in Torquay: Let’s make time to count our blessings

Lee Bray – Secretary for Christians Together in Torquay

Lee Bray – Secretary for Christians Together in Torquay - Credit: Archant

One hundred years ago Earle Dickson, a Johnson and Johnson employee, invented the Band-Aid to help his wife Josephine, who frequently cut and burned herself while cooking. The sticking plaster allowed her to dress her wounds without assistance.

Lockdown life is hard and Covid-19 needs more than a sticking plaster. Band-Aid can’t sort out sickness, loneliness, poverty, deprivation or fear.

We are all in this together, cheering one another on. Covid-19 hasn’t crushed our spirits. We long for an end to the pandemic but we’ve found courage in the face of adversity and resolved to work through the challenges together.

‘Love your neighbour’ is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. This year has reminded us just how important it is to look out for others we know to be vulnerable or in need.

Even more important, said Jesus, is to love God with everything you’ve got! If we can do that, then loving our neighbours will naturally follow.

I’m lucky enough to be secretary for Christians Together in Torquay – all sorts of people from the churches of our town working together to celebrate God’s goodness and serve the local community.

Over several years we’ve set up projects supporting those in need in Torquay.

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When we launched the Torquay Community Larder in 2016 we prayed for 20 volunteers in order to make a start and were thrilled when 70 people came forward to help feed the hungry.

Last winter an army of more than 350 volunteers banded together to run the Torbay Winter Night Shelter (ToWNS), providing a warm dry place for the night to the homeless.

During the pandemic it’s been our privilege to be part of the Torbay Food Alliance, housing Torquay’s hub for the collection and distribution of food at The Salvation Army in Market Street.

We’ve been able to help out with deliveries of food, medicines and essential supplies to the vulnerable and with the coronavirus helplines.

This winter Covid rules mean we can’t operate a night shelter, so we’re changing the focus of the operation to provide hot meals and packed lunches for the homeless, bringing comfort to those without a home of their own.

We pull together when times are hard. People do their very best to help others – go the extra mile for no extra reward.

In spite of Covid – we are better together.

It was 64 years after Band-Aid was invented that Bob Geldof and others borrowed the name to launch a song which aimed to help ‘Feed the World’.

The project was marked by controversy but it made its mark and the song ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ still resonates today.

This Christmas looks set to be different, with limited family gatherings, smaller turkeys, fewer parties and less carol singing. Will we know it’s Christmas?

Some may breathe a sigh of relief, glad of a break from the seasonal hurly-burly, but many look forward to the Christmas festivities.

To help us celebrate Christmas in spite of Covid, Christians Together are preparing Christmas window displays, a market stall and Tree of Hope, visits from a stage trailer and nativity trails, quizzes and competitions for children and families in our town centres.

Popular local artist Becky Bettesworth is providing artwork to link things together under the uniting theme ‘Hope’. Look out for her distinctive Christmas Hope poster springing up all around town.

Yes, this Christmas is sure to be different. But in spite of Covid we can still celebrate the greatest gift of all – Jesus Christ – God’s own son.

This year let’s make time to count our blessings, give thanks for what we have, and recognise Jesus in the face of others.

With the tinsel stripped away there’s just a chance that this year we might rediscover the true wonder of Christmas – light and hope for all the world.