'Use any quotation you like, there is a huge problem' - Anthony Bernard

The 'three kings' from the Nativity

The 'three kings' from the Nativity - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Anthony Bernard, of Exmouth Community Larder, writes for the Journal

'Good King Wenceslaus' seems to have gone out of favour since my youth! The carol describes how he went out on the feast of Stephen, the day after Christmas, to find and help the poor - King Wenceslaus should be patron saint of Foodbanks!!

The rush of donations before Christmas is subsiding, but the need continues and will no doubt increase. Much help is needed, so THANKS for continued support!!

The Exmouth Community Larder worked continuously throughout 2020; 2,315 packages given out, to feed 4,837 people, approximately 58,044 meals!! King Wencelaus' Page in verse two would have been proud! All derived from generous donations from the whole of the wider community. The new lockdown will increase demand at a time when donations usually trail off.

The "Three Kings of Orient …." has also been superseded by more modern words and music. Their part in the Nativity story is a reminder that Jesus came to all peoples from all over the world. My own fantasy is that the three kings came from Korea, whose history 2,000 years ago was in a period known as the "Three Kingdoms".

The message today is that that there are peoples all over the world with shortages of food, clothing and shelter. Our community is wonderfully supporting the needy locally, but the whole world is in trouble while our own news is focussed on our own difficulties. Maybe, money put aside for cancelled cruises and foreign holidays can be used to support overseas aid?? My own preference is for those charities that have their own people on the ground, CAFOD (Catholic international development charity) , the Salvation Army and others, avoiding the need for middlemen.

Meanwhile, It is good news that it was our scientists who identified the new strain of the Covid-19 virus, and good news that they are world leaders in this field. The bad news is that more mischievous strains may evolve if the virus can mutate again. At least British science will be among the first to recognise changes and assess the consequences.

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Recent events have been likened to Ancient Biblical plagues - even the Plague of Frogs, in Exodus chapter 8, has been blamed over the hold-up of lorries at Dover over Christmas!

For lighter reading, there is HG Wells' "The War of the Worlds", in which the aliens were unstoppable until they all fell ill from some virus and died - "and so the Earth was saved by a virus, one of its least creatures" - or so I remember the narration from the film!!

We can take any quotation to suit whatever point we wish to make. The reality is that there is a huge problem, but within the problem we can find solutions that have been missed. Most people have become more considerate of others; the slow down in travel is lowering carbon emissions; there is good news among the difficulties if we look for it.

The gap between people in trouble and not in trouble has been highlighted by the increased need in Foodbanks. To classify people as "disadvantaged" or "affluent" is wrong; there is nothing permanent about either group.

People have lost jobs in one sector and found better jobs elsewhere; people who had really good situations are suddenly in trouble! The objective of the Community Larder is to give food help where it is needed locally!!

For more complex issues, the Citizens Advice centre is available, on line or by phone

The whole world is in chaos; the news is so focussed on the local problems that we do not hear about the terrible troubles elsewhere.

The Queen's speech touched on this, as did Pope Francis on Christmas Day.

Those of us who can't spend money on cruises and overseas holidays should be remembering the many foreign workers and ships' crews who are out of work, out of luck and out of food!! This is a very good time to think of the many world charities, such as Christian Aid and

CAFOD which give worldwide and overall support to our neighbours, following the precept: "One Creator, One Planet, One Family".

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