I want to highlight the importance of volunteering with the underlying ethos of 'doing something for some body in need'.
I quoted, in my Remembrance Day sermon, the words of a US Airforce veteran…
'...without providing something for someone in need, the soul dies'.
The volunteer force of the Royal British Legion is unmatched in the care and support that they offer to service families.
At this time of year, when our thoughts turn from remembrance to 'what can we do to help someone in need', there are numerous appeals through well-known and lesser-known charities. The media plays an important role in highlighting the human plight and need in various situations across the world.
Loneliness is one of the stigmas of today. People live busy lives, juggling the demands of work, childcare and family life. The elderly and house bound can often slip through the net and it's a sad fact that many have no family to visit or have lost touch through all kinds of difficulties.
The 'Silverline Telephone' charity offers to match volunteers as a 'telephone friend' to a person who would like to have that contact. A once a week half hour call can make a huge difference to a lonely person.
The BBC 'Children in Need programme' raises huge amounts of money through volunteers taking part in imaginative and challenging events. Holding a simple coffee morning or cake stall is just as important as the celebrity star- studded events.
The Big Build TV programme is headed-up by Nick Knowles who can muster a veritable army of trade volunteers to turn around the desperately
inadequate housing situations of families who are struggling with life-limiting conditions. It always moves people to tears when the project is completed and the lives of another family are positively turned around.
Local hospices rely heavily on their volunteers. I was recently given an invitation to visit the new Alexander Devine Children's hospice in Maidenhead. Its vision is to eventually provide round-the-clock care to families with a child suffering from a life-threatening or life-limiting condition.
Their fundraising programme is essential to the running of the hospice which, at present, offers a day-care programme through a huge number of volunteers working alongside trained staff.
I mention just a few of the various ways that volunteering has a massive impact. The effect is a two-way process The giver receives as much if not more than the recipient. The soul is warmed and the light of love burns brighter.
In our Christian commitment to care for the sick, the lonely and the bereaved we can make a difference too. Offering to visit, to make a friendly telephone call, offer practical help where it is needed demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.
We are well blessed in our village communities that there is that ethos of care and concern for our neighbours. Church life is enriched by the church family being involved in community affairs. This is part of our faith journey and leads us into life.
Advent, which starts at the beginning of December, is a good place to consider what we can contribute.