Made in the image of God
30 November 2018 IN: Bishop
Much of what is most precious at the heart of our society has been gifted to the whole community by the Christian Church.
We founded school, hospitals, and social services. Over time the state has taken an increasing share of the responsibility for them, not least because it has the resources to turn good practice in particular places into a universal service. Though crucially, through our church schools and our chaplaincies, we have retained a vital involvement in how such services flourish.
For several generations, care for those without a roof over their heads had been heading in the same direction. Church-run almshouses and Church Army hostels gradually gave way to secular provision. Yet now it is falling to our own generation to take up the challenge to tackle homelessness, as the holes in the statutory safety net get larger. Through the Greater Manchester Winter Night Shelter, the Church is at the heart of providing support to some of the least fortunate in our society.
It strikes me when I visit such projects that there is something very precious about the way that church workers and volunteers value and affirm the whole person, with their physical, mental and spiritual needs. As in our school, hospital and wider chaplaincy work, we instinctively treat people with the dignity that comes from recognising that they are made in the image of God. The God who took that to the ultimate level when he took flesh, born of Mary, two thousand Christmases ago. The God who reminds us that when we care for the least of our brothers and sisters, we are caring for Him.