Angels with dirty faces
It was Sham 69 the English punk rock band formed in Hersham who had a massive hit in 1978 with their song "Angels with Dirty Faces".
A couple of week before last Christmas, Wantage Methodist Church placed over 1,500 hand knitted Christmas angels around our town for people to find.
In the market place, in phone boxes, on walls, in hedges, in care homes and in a 101 different places, they patiently waited to be found and taken to their new homes with their messages of love, hope and peace.
Having posted on the Wantage & Grove Community Facebook page what we were going to be doing, we received so many positive messages from people hoping to find one of our angels.
These were followed up by posts of thanks when an angel was found, saying how much they meant to their new owners.
As in previous years, it seemed that the right angel with just the right message was found by the person who needed it the most.
The day before we let the angels loose, they were blessed and prayed over during the morning service. They were to be found on every windowsill, every surface of our church. They sat there waiting patiently, clean, bright and colourful, each stitch lovingly knitted, entwined with love and prayer.
These angels struck a real chord with our community in a way that knitted Santas or snowmen would fail to achieve.
Each Angel a sign of that which is beyond what we can see or touch, that speaks directly to our human condition, our fears, hopes and dreams.
Some, were wanted simply to go on and decorate a Christmas tree. Others were lovingly taken to put on the graves of recently departed loved ones, or sent to those in need. They were passed on to those undergoing chemotherapy, or who were going through difficult times.
When we think of angels, especially in the context of Christmas, we imagine them to be be bright, reflecting a light that is beyond our understanding.
A few days after we gave the angels away and to my dismay, I found one of the angels that somehow had ended up in the gutter, soaked through with rain water and covered with dirt and the detritus the world.
Yet even as I picked up this sodden angel with a now dirty face, I was struck by the profundity of it all.
Like God who took on human form to live amongst us, this symbol of love and peace was found in the midst of the mess and dirt of the real world. Ignored or unrecognised by those who passed by, it was still nonetheless a sign that pointed heavenwards, a reminder of the mystery of faith and of God.
This angel is now to be found outside our side door at home, a reminder that whilst the great masters of old have painted their image of angels with an brilliance that dazzles the onlooker, God's angels are to be found in the dirtiest and lowliest of places, with their sleeves rolled up and their faces smeared with dirt as they minster amongst us.
It is also a reminder that God continues to work through the most unlikely of people and in the most unlikely of ways as He continues to tells us "Do not be afraid!".
You can also view Keith's reflection by clicking on this link to the Circuit youTube channel