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The eight days of the Black Santa sit-out begin this morning and run through to Christmas Eve, just missing out Sunday.

Black Santa Appeal

Published 16/12/2015

The eight days of the Black Santa sit-out begin this morning and run through to Christmas Eve, just missing out Sunday.

People have been asking, with a smile and much encouragement: "Are you getting ready?" And: "What's the weather going to be like?"

Actually, there is not much that I can do about either.

I put my extra layers of clothing on (both under and over my usual cathedral office gear), drag the barrel out and start just after morning prayer, which we say at 8.10am every day.

This morning the Psalm that is appointed for us to say is Psalm 40, a really wonderful expression of hope in a dark place.

It begins with these words: "I waited patiently upon the Lord; he stooped to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure."

What a picture the Psalmist had in his mind of God reaching down, listening to us and picking us up.

Black Santa, in a way, is acknowledging the thousands of people across our community who are imitating that description of God's ways; listening to someone who needs help and, if they can, supporting and encouraging them; picking them up, maybe even pulling them out of the mire.

Of course, they won't see themselves as some kind of saint. In my experience, people who do charitable work rarely see themselves in that way.

The next eight days are about providing resources for ordinary people to do things in our community to improve it.

It is worth every single minute of an eight-day stand, whatever the weather brings, in the hope that we can raise upwards of £200,000.

We can do it once again.

The Very Rev John Mann is Dean of Belfast

Belfast Telegraph

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