Reflection 33: Xmas and Those who We’ve Abandoned

Reading: The Book of Acts 19-28

I’m sitting here, drinking my coffee, and gearing up for what will likely be an intense couple of days.

It’s been a hard week already, xmas is a hard time for our young people. Those with no whanau around them, who’ve been abandoned by our communities, condemned by our society, ignored by our Government. Their pain is real, and it’s raw. The anguish that comes with loss, with memories that would rather be forgotten, with the realization that you’ll be alone on this day we’re told is meant to be the pinnacle of family time and togetherness.

I stared into the eyes of a traumatized child this week, I sat with him as he wept, his sobs filled the prison cell where we gathered, and the Divines cry was heard.

What does xmas mean to this young man?

What does xmas mean for those who have been abandoned by those who practice it?

Over the next few days and weeks, my team and I will be doing what we can to help our young people navigate the truama of xmas. A time that for many only serves to remind them of their exclusion from our society.

And I think… what… is… the point.

And then I remember the baby.

The story of xmas is the ultimate critique of the practice of it.

Beneath it all, this story is about the most powerful being in existence, giving it all up, in order to join humanity, in its most vulnerable form. Not simply joining the poor, oppressed and marginalized of this world, but becoming One of them. The Divine becomes weak, dependant, reliant on others to survive. The Divine, the Creator of all things, becomes a baby.

I wonder often about how the dominant practice of xmas reflects this story. We give gifts to those that don’t need them, in the expectation of receiving gifts that we don’t need. We put on parties inviting those who would invite us, and feast until we’re sick.

And all the while, a baby lies hungry in a manger, weak, vulnerable, in need.

Regardless of your faith Tradition, the story of xmas invites us all to ponder this question.

Is there room at the table for the outcast, the poor, the ones our society has marginalized and made vulnerable? And if not, are you willing to give up the power and privilege afforded you to make space for the child we shall sing about over our xmas pav and roast lamb?

A.J. Hendry

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