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Angels Among Us

The Angel Gabriel seems to take a starring role at Christmas. Despite appearing on many Christmas cards, I didn’t know much about him, so I Googled what angels were up to. To make “God’s message understandable to people and help them to accept it with a pure heart” seems to be the job title. The essence of this message is to simply love one another. In which case, there are angels among us. Over Christmas 2023 I had the great fortune to spend some time with one or two.

In modern times at least, they don’t appear with a white flowing gown and a pair of wings. Yet when you are in the presence of modern angels you know it. There is an aura of love, yet seemingly lacking in a halo above their head.

On Christmas Day 2023, I was privileged to serve at Norwich Open Christmas in St Andrews Hall. I didn’t think I was signing up to be in the presence of angels. There were so many people who had abandoned their ‘traditional’ Christmas to serve the hundreds of diverse people who came for food and company. Both the love on offer and the gratitude were palpable throughout the day. Even the two professional security guards (dressed like they were from the Men in Black film) seemed to experience the love present under St Andrews (apparently quite leaky) roof.

There were so many moments when I welled up. It was beautiful to be a part of that day. Love and gratitude came in waves, at times verging on the overwhelming.   As part of the security team (complete with earpiece) I had the honor of being stationed around the men’s loos. Whilst perhaps not the most lavish of places to be, it was great because it meant a constant flow of people I could say hello to without having to go anywhere. It reminded me of a dog in a moving car with its head out the window – it didn’t have to move to receive a continuous flow of rewards.

Although there were dozens of welling-up experiences, one sticks in my mind. There was a table of 4 blind people helped by one woman in her late 20s who made it her mission to ensure they all had a good time. To see her lead one of them to the loo with a beaming smile on her face, and even nip in ahead and clean the loo seat first, was just beautiful. That was an example of love in action. When you see it in real life it’s the most beautiful thing.

During quiet times I sneakily did some mingling. One chap, on his own, dressed in a fantastic sparkling suit drew me in. I sat down and chatted to him. Although he had cerebral palsy his beaming smile revealed a handful of teeth and an expression that exuded gratitude. At that moment, I felt I was the one to be thankful for him being there. There was so much love in that brief interaction.

That Christmas day’s memories will last a long time and were shared by so many who wanted to serve on an alternative Christmas day. There were Mums and Dads from broken families who felt the pain of that separation, and others who were utterly fed up with consumerism. There were so many who wanted to be there for in previous years but the inevitable draw to the famililar kept them doing what they always did.

On the 27th I bought a half price gammon joint which was far too large for me (or my largely vegetarian girlfriend) to eat. It was gorgeous though. So, I cooked a roast dinner on the 28th for one of my elderly neighbours Terry. He’s 87, and hasn’t been out of the house for 6 months due to his legs not working very well. When I took it round we got chatting about the nurses who regularly come to treat his legs and replace the dressings. He described them as angels. Angels among us.

When you consider all the horrible stuff that is happening in the world, isn’t it beautiful to dwell on the idea of angels being among us? They are there. They aren’t that far away. They might not be treated too well either, they may not feel too well either, they may have their own troubles and sadness they take with them on their mission to love others. Yet they do so with that determined sense that it is right to do so, to care for others, to love others and to even sacrifice for others.

There are angels among us. Look out for them. Look after them. Become one.