Where is home for you? Is it a place, a feeling or a group of people? What or where is it that makes home, for you?

Because there’s a deep longing in all of us for a place where we can belong and be at home; having a place where we can be secure and settled is a deep human need in every culture and country.

It will feel or very different for each of us, but everyone longs to be at home.

Shortage of housing in Cornwall is such a crisis

And that’s one of the reasons why the terrible shortage of housing in Cornwall is such a crisis. Because there are more people sleeping on the streets this Christmas than there have been for many years, and because many more who have accommodation, know that having a roof over your head if it’s damp, temporary or unsafe isn’t the same as having a home.

And Christmas is a time when home feels especially important. We put great effort into decorating our homes, and many of us will have traditions associated with getting our homes ready for Christmas, and we may well invite people into our homes, or spend time in other peoples homes through this season. Christmas is a homely time, and a time when home matters.

But the Christmas story, with its familiar characters; Mary and Joseph, the angels, shepherds and kings, is a story all about home and homelessness. At the heart of the story is a young couple who have to leave their own home and who end up without anywhere safe to stay, even though Mary is pregnant and vulnerable. And in the end their baby is born in a stable, hardly a suitable or safe place for a new life to begin. But even that isn’t secure, and they quickly have to flee even their temporary accommodation in Bethlehem, and head out on the road as refugees from a tyrant King’s brutality.

The first Christmas wasn’t a time of warm, homely comfort, hospitality and family celebration, but a reminder that home is a precious and fragile gift, that many people don’t have.

For more than 35 years St Petrocs, Cornwall’s homeless charity, has been working to end homelessness in Cornwall and they are running their winter appeal again this year. If you have the privilege of living in a safe and homely house, perhaps you could donate to their work. You can find details on the St Petrocs website.

The diocese is also supporting local charities through its Cornish Christmas Giving catalogue. Find out more and give the gift of Christmas this year here.

And if you can’t give – which many can’t in this ongoing cost of living crisis, please spare a moment to pray for people who will go without a home this Christmas; those who are living on the streets and those who have a roof over their head, but not a safe, secure and warm home.

And I hope that, whatever ‘home’ means for you, you will have a happy Christmas.

God bless.