During this time of advent, a season of cheer and joy, there are people who do not have much in economic standings or bank balances to be cheerful or joyful about. Such people can be located in the most developed of countries as well as within the most developing countries of our 21st century world.
The economic meltdown as recognized following the crash on Wall Street has had global effect. People are living in the aftermath of what is best described as, “best as they can.” It must be admitted however, while people of various race, class, gender, and religion face economic hardship throughout the world, it is the poorest of the poor who will feel it most.
Some will argue that in times of personal discomfort, it is not easy to acknowledge another’s pain, or the fact that one is better off than thee other. I believe it to be quite natural for you and I to feel our individual and personal pain, thus operating from it as a reference. It is on the other hand possible to recognize that even within one’s individual and personal pain or discomfort; there are those who are less fortunate and in greater distress. If we allow our personal and individual reference to become our preference of understanding the world, we are choosing to recognize our personal hardship and deny the reality of those who have less.
Bishop Tutu in “No future without forgiveness”, points out that while South Africa was in the midst of celebrating our victory over Apartheid, and the beginnings of our new democracy, we displayed a total inaction and silence to our brothers and sisters suffering through the horrendous Rwandan genocide. Bishop Tutu’s voice must be harkened in our current day South Africa as it relates to our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters. During this festive season while gathering with family and friends may we have awareness and a concern for those who are less fortunate and people who in dire strait circumstances.
In these times of excessive shopping, times of carol singing, or times of sharing of gifts, may we be mindful of the blessings we have. May we be practical and exemplary in ensuring that from the little or the much that we have, we will seek to be a blessing to people around us.
I was most inspired by my parents who in their limits and within their own financial burdens, where able to rally together with my siblings and a couple from the states to organize and facilitate a Christmas party for about 450 children from a community on South side Johannesburg. My parents hope to continue running programs and initiatives within this community in partnership with local businesses, local churches, community members, local schools etc., which will ensure the healthy development of young people, their families and their community.
A coming together of people from diverse backgrounds may provide the inspiration required to stimulate community based initiatives and programs, which may start during this season but continue beyond. Because this Christmas we desire our existence to be bound up in our brother and sister’s calamity.
During this Christmas season may the spirit of the holidays be lived out by people of faith who will proclaim the love and mercy of God in tangible and practical ways. In ways that will encompass our heads and hearts, our minds and feet, our words and deeds, and most definitely our moneys and our long term commitment!