A Christmas message

West Ham United Club Chaplain Rev. Alan Bolding has shared a festive message for Hammers fans celebrating Christmas.

Merry Christmas from everyone at West Ham United.

"It's that special time of year again and what a year we've had. Who can forget that marvellous day at Wembley. Magnificent stadium, beautiful weather and the right result. Didn't the lads do us proud and get us back to top-flight football where we belong?

"I'd like to tell you a story about Father Robert, a Priest from Sao Paulo in Brazil. Just before Christmas, he started telling people 'This year we're going to have a live crib'. People were curious and anxious to see what he was talking about.

"A week before Christmas he said the same thing and after the service he got his students together and told them that he'd like them to go into Sao Paulo and find the poorest area and the poorest people. He said he'd like them to take their names, addresses and number of children. After three days they came back with over 100 names and addresses and father Robert wrote them all on pieces of paper and put them on a tray.

"Just before the mass on Christmas Eve started, the crib was put on the right-side of the altar and father Robert took the tray with all the names on and put it on the opposite side of the altar.

"When the mass started, he got two posters and he put one up beside the usual crib, which said 'Dead Crib', and the other poster under the tray said 'Live Crib' and all the congregation were asking what the meaning was.

"He spoke about social injustice, unemployment, the lack of medical care, food and homes. He said: 'This Christmas, through poverty and through ignorance, Christ has changed his address. On this Christmas Day, you'll find him at his new address, which is on a piece of paper on that tray.

"After the service, the church emptied very quickly and so did the paper on the tray. That day, the baker sold more bread than he'd ever sold, the butcher sold more meat than he'd ever sold, rice and beans flew off the shelf and the dairy ran out of milk. Clothes, toys, pens, paper and shoes all found new owners at Christ's new address.

"This Christmas, where will you find Jesus Christ? Will you find him in church, at home, your neighbour's home, a stranger's home or even at the Boleyn Ground?

"Wherever you find him, God bless you, have a Happy Christmas and a really prosperous New Year.

"Come on you Irons!"

Rev. Alan Bolding
West Ham United club Chaplain