Getting to Know the Neighbours

Christmas Eve’s eve this year (that’s the 23rd December for any of you struggling to work it out)…what were you doing? Last minute Christmas shopping? Snuggling up indoors away from the storm? Watching classic Christmas movies? Well a few of the youth from St Mark’s kept a slightly different Christmas tradition.

neighboursEvery year around the big feasts of the Church (and a few other special days of the year), they prepare gifts to give to the Church’s neighbours in the Kensington area.

Let me take you back a bit to see how this all started…

In the Sermon on the Mount Christ says to us “You are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14). Sometimes we look at this and think there is a typo - surely He meant to say He is the light of the world. Well He does say that in the gospel of John, but He also tells us we are the light of the world. It is precisely because He is the light of the world that we also should be. He is living inside each one of us, and therefore we are to be His presence in this world. As He is love, we should be loving; as He is the Prince of Peace, we should be peacemakers.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Although we may all know that we should “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31), sometimes we forget to be considerate towards others. Two examples of such: the blocking of another’s driveway in order to park that little bit closer to church; spilling onto the streets at 2am after Christmas midnight liturgy, forgetting that others might be sleeping at that time of night. And so, this tradition of giving small gifts to our Kensington neighbours began, as a way to try and restore any broken relationships, and show our neighbours that we do appreciate and care for them.

This year the gift was a small candle holder inscribed with a Bible verse, with a little tag attached wishing our friends in Kensington a merry Christmas from St Mark’s church. The youth split up and delivered one of these gifts to 200 houses in the area. Fortunately the Lord seemed to have eased off the rain at that time, so they didn’t get too cold and wet. As well as hopefully showing a little bit of love to those around us, this act of giving has helped some of us to think a bit differently; to notice people we might otherwise just pass by, to move a little bit outside of our close knit community and to think and care more for the world around us.

Of course this is just a tiny drop in the ocean, and we may be far from being a light to our city, and a light to the world. I think this starts with each of us coming closer to Him the source of Love, that we may be transformed from the inside, and then hopefully we will start to see the world a little differently, a little more like He sees it.

If you would like to get involved in future events, or have any ideas of how we can actively love those around us, whether in our neighbourhoods or a bit further afield, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit http://stmark.org.uk/contact for further contact information.

St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church in London is one of the oldest Coptic churches in the lands of the immigration, and one of the first to be supported and cared for by our beloved patriarch, HH the late Pope Shenouda III.

  • St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church
    Allen Street, Kensington
    London W8 6UX