Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The Sunday School children singing "Away in a Manger", and for the pidgin speakers, "Long Ples bilong Sipsip, na ol Bulmakau".
We have just enjoyed our third Christmas here in PNG. It seems much of the nostalgia around Christmas experienced in Canada is somehow stripped away here. The sun is far too hot and the culture far too removed from a Canadian Christmas. In fact, living here forces us to see Christmas festivities from another lens, maybe, a less glamorized, commercialized, and even sanitized end. We see it amidst poverty. We see it amidst people who probably have to go to their gardens on Christmas day to cover for their evening meal. We see it through the lens of people, many of whom can’t afford gifts for their children, let alone the bare essentials to be healthy during the season of Christmas. Reflecting on all of this, makes one realize that in many ways Christ came into a world much like this. There were colonies of lepers, there were the very poor that had no real national social blanket to fall back on, there were the sick and the lame immobilized and placed by the roadside for the next benevolent traveler. Sadly, in the West many don’t think they need Christ for they have much of what He came to do—“to preach good news to the poor…to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” And yet the truth is, both worlds--the West and the other, the North and the South, are in desperate need of this. They are in desperate need of the one thing that no money can buy, no insurance plan can cover, no festive experience can resurrect, and that is peace with God through Christ. We thank God that we know this peace and have opportunity to proclaim it to a hurting people. This is Christmas.