Hope Begins with Christmas
This has been a long year. It’s been a year where were bombarded by bad news at every turn. But there’s hope.
I was thinking about all this as I was flying home over Zimbabwe and Namibia a few weeks ago. I looked down over the landscape and was saddened by how dry and barren it looked.
As I looked down, it occurred to me that I’m tired and need a holiday. Not from the daily routine, but rather a holiday from bad news!
A stream of consciousness got me thinking about a different kind of news: the Good News proclaimed in the Gospel.
It struck me that the entire New Testament and the story of hope and promise that Jesus came to bring us begins with his birth. Hope begins with Christmas.
As I watched the arid landscape, some vague words began to form in my head. They became the verse below.
A Poem For Christmas
Dry rivers winding nowhere
Barren farm land, yielding nothing but dust
Its inhabitants long gone
The scars of bloodied craters carved out of the earth
For a gain none can see.
Sulphurous remains of artificial dams,
Spidery dust roads vanishing into the horizon,
Together with the memory of the trucks that once carried
The nation’s wealth to faraway places.
Not a house in sight, no sign of life.
The real treasure moved on to eke life elsewhere.
Torn from the earth, torn from themselves by the hopelessness.
I often wonder if this is what God sees
When He looks down on the work of his hand:
Valleys raped of their lush beauty to fill our insatiable appetite,
Mountains razed to the ground to raise impersonal skyscrapers,
Forests slashed and burned forever to make way for voracious industry.
Men and women used and misused to satisfy my imagined needs,
Millions robbed of their dignity so that I can enjoy mine.
Yet, the more I search for the essence of me, the more it eludes me.
Into this brokenness, this hopelessness, God sent His Son.
Into an abandoned land He came,
To make it fertile once more.
Born into homelessness,
So that we may find our true home.
As a refugee He suffered,
To restore the barren homeland of the heart.
He became a pilgrim in the desert,
To lead us to the eternal river of life.
As a babe he was born,
To remind us who we were before the womb
And see ourselves engraved in his image,
The beloved children of the Father.
But still our eyes do not see.
In our brokenness, we are oblivious of the blood on our hands:
The wounds of the macheted land and murdered souls.
Pride blinds me: I am both perpetrator and victim
Of our collective suicide.
This is why the Child is born.
Each year He comes anew
To remind me and you that the time is not yet worn;
The Baby’s cry an invitation to renew:
To heal the brokenness inside of me and you,
To hear the cries of our abandoned brethren,
To rebuild the desecrated earth,
To start again and fill the world with light.
I wish all the Southern Cross readers a Blessed Christmas and may the message of the Holy Birth inspire us to positively influence the reality around us not only at this time of year but all year round.