When Christmas Breaks into Life!

I look out the window and the garden meets my eye with colour and vibrant greens.  Despite the lack of rain there is colour.  Despite the heat and humidity that is overpowering, there is life and colour.  Despite the weary conditions and the awful news that meets me in the daily paper or radio news, there is life and colour.  Some of the life looks a little fragile as flowers have reached their end but others bloom with life and vitality.  Some of the small orchids my father has given us continue to blossom and bloom with intricate design and wonderful colour.

This is Christmas!  It isn’t simply the time of year, the season fast approaching but this is the essential point of Christmas – life in the midst of struggle, pain and vulnerability.  The reality of Christmas comes to us in myriad ways if only our eyes are open to the in-breaking of God’s grace and goodness.  The birds that flock into the garden or the local bushland, the ducks floating on the creek in the heat of the day, the lizards our cat chases – and the promise of a cool change and rain on a hot, steamy day.  These are signs that point to life and hope.  They are colour against the harsh darkness of the world.  These small things are joy and wonder amidst the complicated problems and concerns of a world that is somewhat crazy, maddening and violent.  The gentle birds picking in the garden right now are signs of peace and wonder, innocence and life.

This contrasts with the story of the complex world of human affairs where there is hatred, conflict, misunderstanding, barriers that stop us caring or loving and the prevalent violence that fills column space and the airways.  Of course the weight of human exploitation of the earth and the poor of the earth gains prominence.  We are beginning to recognise how much we are wounding our ecosystems so vital for life on earth.  We recognise the poverty of the developing world but fail to grasp that solutions are within our grasp – if there was the will.

Christmas is a complicated time as people rush around to fulfil the many obligations and expectations of the time.  Amidst the heat and humidity we are tired and worn – we are yearning to stop.  More than that I think we all yearn for something different to break in and transform the way things are.  Perhaps most of us sense the need for a different way but feel powerless against the forces of status quo to change and walk against the tide.  We yearn to ride a wave of change with others into a new and peaceful world where the major problems are removed and replaced by humans living in peace and with grace rather than hostility and suspicion.  The problems are too big for you and I and so we try to ignore the big things and hope those in power might have some insight or sense.  Alas our hopes are constantly thwarted!

Christmas comes with its story of simple parents caught up in something bigger than themselves and suffering in a world where they are little more than expendable pawns in the chess game of life under Roman Emperors and local kings.  A baby is born in an out of the way place in an animal’s stall and laid in a cattle trough.  It is a lovely story at first glance, especially when it glows on cards and in scenes, pure, simple and beautiful.  It is, in ordinary telling and portrayal, devoid of the smells, the discomfort, the Middle Eastern heat and poverty of the time.  It is devoid of the difficulties and dangers of child birth outside modern hospitals and technology.  The cute story it has become belies the radical reality that Luke, the storyteller, seeks to convey.

At the heart of it this story is one of counter-cultural improbability that screams out and rails against the powers of the world symbolised by Caesar Augustus and King Herod.  These are the brutal, omnipotent powers of the world of Jesus’ birth.  They rule over the ‘whole world’ (the only world they know) and the oppressive power is mighty.  In Luke’s telling, this story places God in another place far from the powers of the world, the prestige, the wealth and the might.  It is situated in Bethlehem and in a cattle stall.  God is revealed not in power and might but in a vulnerable, poor baby!  The first visitors are shepherds who occupy a lower status in society and in the skies angels sing.  Their words are taken from Caesar’s own self-proclamation that he is the ‘prince of peace’.  In Luke’s story, the angels proclaim that is Jesus, God’s peace will come upon all people.  This is a treasonous statement that not only compares Jesus and Caesar but suggests that Jesus is greater and that God is revealed not in Caesar (who claimed Divinity) but Jesus!

The story of Jesus then reveals the way of God as love and justice for all people.  It is a non-violent alternative that embraces all people into an inclusive community of hope, grace, peace and life.  It is a vision of something that moves us, touching something deep within our being.  We are moved by stories of deep compassion where someone reaches out and embraces the vulnerable or where the vulnerable are enabled to stand with pride.  The story of an underdog rising above their station and finding a place of equality and respect within the world is inspiring.  Christmas is such a story.  More than that it is a story that reveals the profound way of God in the world to work through the poor, vulnerable and ordinary over and against the powerful (they are welcome as well but will have to give up some of their power and violent ways).  God works in the little places to change people and situations, to bring promise, hope and life. God is revealed in the vulnerable, somewhat fragile flowers in our garden.

There is a story that I think is a Christmas story, one that helps us understand the response we need to make in this season and throughout the year,

A monastery fell upon hard times.  No longer did young men line up to join the order, nor did people come to picnic in the gardens or spend time in retreat.  The Abbott grew concerned and went to seek out the wisdom of the wise guru.  He had a meeting and shared the sad story of his desperate monastery.  The wise one prayed for a bit and then proclaimed that one of their number was the Messiah of God come back to earth and lived amongst them incognito. 

The Abbott was confused and wondered who it could be –Brother Cook? Brother Gardener?  Which brother could it be?  The other brothers were equally confused and wondered if it was this one or that.  Finally they all realised that the Messiah was hiding his identity and it could be any of them.  Gradually there came over the monastery such a profound change because everyone treated the other as if they were the’ Presence of God!  The singing once again inspired.  The gardens were beautiful and such a peace and love surrounded the Monastery that people came for retreats and young men signed on as brothers.  All because they began to love each other unconditionally!

May Christmas transform your life and experience in God’s grace and love!

By geoffstevenson

A Poem For Christmas – 2015

I heard a song the other night, played gently in a quiet moment of remembering.

Gathered to reflect on Christmas struggle, those no longer present at the Christmas table…

A few delicately tapped out notes on a piano rung, hung then faded into the darkened space.

A candle lit and then another as people remembered the precious pain of Christmas and people lost.

Soon a table ablaze with memories and love, a tear or two flowed down a cheek

And the piano gently played.

I knew the tune; it fluttered in and out through beautifully strange chords and tinkling creativity.

Amazing Grace – that is it, I thought.  And the words materialised through chords and artful melody.

Amazing Grace.  That is what I felt this soft night of remembering.

The grace that gifted me with the people of memory, no longer real in flesh and blood

but alive in spirit and this place as time and space coalesce into a past-present-future moment of…

Grace??!!  Amazing and profound and God-filled.

The melody brightened and then morphed into a chord, melancholy yet rich.

It contorted itself through sublimely beautiful and unobtrusively simple intensity

It lifted me and drew me along into a journey of memory but more!

I remembered but memory alone can be lost back there.

This night, memory was a living moment of grace-filled wonder, an eternal moment of being.

It was a God-filled moment  – no other word can adequately describe the mystery and wonder.

Amazing Grace began to soar and with it my being lifted into the eternity of existential meaning and joy.

I was lost but am found, blind but see, grace has led me through toils and snares and will bring me home.

Where is ‘home’? Where do I go to belong, to know and be and exist in my truest sense?

Where is home, the place where life is striped back to joyful, peaceful, loving simplicity?

Where is the place of laughter and light and life in abundance?

I know this place in lots of spaces but always it is a grace-filled space of wonder – Amazing Grace.

Can Christmas be that space and place, amidst the hustle and bustle, the stress and chaos?

Can I find a quiet, gentle way through Advent news with its sombre warnings and painful life?

A shooting here, a massacre there; war and conflict, retaliation and pain

Poverty and homeless people, refugees wandering the world in despair.

The earth itself cries out for life, for release, for a rest from human lust and greed.

Why do so many who have so much want so much more?  Why do we clamour for evermore riches?

Why do we think we will be happy by having, holding and accumulating?

Why do we think that everyone else wants our stuff?

Why can’t we open ourselves to others – especially the stranger? The different one?

I read the story again this week, the one of a young woman filled with grace exclaiming to angels: ‘Let it be!’

I read of her joy at being lifted from the bottom to the top, well the top of God’s world, if not Caesar’s

I smiled at her boldness, proclaiming God’s antithetical world where all is upside down and back the front.

I smiled and cheered when she gave it to the powerful and the rich…

Then I went quiet a bit and the melancholic strains of Amazing Grace flowed gently through my soul…

I am the rich of the world.  There are far more people with far less than I have – more below than above!

I have more than enough – was this girl talking about me?  Is this story about me?

Is Christmas an intrusive warning that sails into my life like a lit firework flying over my fence?

Will it explode into colour and noise, highlighting the absurdity of my world?

Will I be caught in the lights, revealing my inadequacy, my emptiness, my yearning?

Mary, Joseph, Jesus, shepherds… They come each year to beckon me onwards into the story.

Do I hear their invitation?  Do I hear their barbed warning contained in a profound narrative that I know so well?

Amazing Grace comes through this story that is literalised, mocked, ripped apart, sentimentalised, trivialised…

And hidden beneath tinsel, lights, family gatherings, parties, food and drink, gifts and all the rest.

Amazing Grace is when MY eyes are opened and my heart is moved.

Amazing Grace is when I am found and in my naked need held by this grace and love

Amazing Grace is when my heart overflows because of the stories of others that touch me, move me

Amazing Grace is when the baby in the cattle stall grips my life and turns me upside down,

shaking out the detritus that accumulates in one’s life.

There is freedom hope, peace, joy and new life!  It is Amazing Grace, Amazing Love!

It is the mystery, the wonder, the sacred, holy Presence we call ‘God’.

May God’s Grace and Peace be with you through this Christmas Season and 2016.
Geoff, Susan, Katelyn and Joshua

By geoffstevenson

‘Let It Be’ – A Response to Grace!

This week, reading from Luke’s story of Jesus, I was reminded of the Beatles song, Let it Be.  The story is of an angel speaking a message to a young Mary about the grace that would come upon her. Mary said: ‘Let it be!’  Whatever God is doing in the world, let me be part of it – let it be!  The Beatles song is:

When I find myself in times of trouble/Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness/She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be/Let it be, let it be/Whisper words of wisdom/Let it be

And when all the broken hearted people/Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be

For though they may be parted/There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be/Let it be, let it be/Let it be, let it be

Yeah, there will be an answer let it be

Let it be, let it be/Let it be, let it be/Whisper words of wisdom
Let it be/Let it be, let it be/Let it be, yeah, let it be

Whisper words of wisdom/Let it be

And when the night is cloudy/There is still a light that shines on me
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be

I wake up to the sound of music/Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Yeah, let it be, let it be/Let it be, yeah, let it be/There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be/Let it be, yeah, let it be/Whisper words of wisdom/Let it be

 

The words in the Beatles song were a revelation to me as I’ve enjoyed Let it Be for many years and it expresses the openness and faith of the young Mary so well (Paul McCartney says it was written after his mother, Mary, but we hear allusions to a deeper story in it).  I wonder what it looks like and means for us to give ourselves completely into the grace of God?  It isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us because we have ‘stuff’.  We have too much to lose to risk everything in the hands of a mysterious God.  We feel the deep need to be in control and so giving ourselves into grace leads us into the uncomfortable place of being out of control and at the whim of God.  We are overly rational beings who sometimes think too much and usually are blinded by what we know or think we know.  To place our lives in the hands of a mysterious, unknowable Presence we call God is untenable for most of us – unless we are poor, uneducated, powerless, vulnerable, helpless and essentially have nothing to lose.  This is Mary who confidently says ‘Let it be!’ She has nothing to lose and is too faithful to doubt.  Let it Be!

Further along in the story the young, pregnant, unmarried Mary visits her older cousin, Elizabeth.  This childless and previously ‘barren’ Elizabeth is also pregnant by God’s grace.  They embrace and the baby within Elizabeth jumps for joy because of the baby within Mary.  Elizabeth is overjoyed at the news her cousin brings and defers to her as the recipient of deeper, greater grace.  The young, vulnerable, powerless Mary sings for joy.  Her song (in Latin called the Magnificat) praises God and speaks of the world turned upside down.

The song proclaims that the poor are lifted up; they are fed!  The rich are brought down and go away empty, having had their fill.  The song of Mary proclaims a world where God chooses the little ones, the powerless, the vulnerable and the poor above the powerful, rich and prestigious.  Amongst the really powerful, strong people in the world, Mary is chosen by God and is blessed with grace, generous and free.  In the story, shepherds, an outcast group on the bottom of society witness the birth and it all happens in an out of the way, insignificant place called Bethlehem.  More than that it is in a cattle stall and a manger – poor, lonely, outcast, vulnerable, powerless, hopeless people are lifted up, blessed and embraced by God.  They become the means of grace for the whole world.  We have a comparison in Luke’s story between Mary and Caesar Augustus and ultimately between Jesus, the tiny, powerless infant and Caesar Augustus, the most powerful person in their world.  God chooses Mary, Jesus and the little ones!

I heard the news today.  We have a growing budget deficit.  It is blowing out and Mr Morrison will now take away spending on welfare, aged care, pharmaceuticals, childcare subsidies and health measures.  Although he suggests that most of the savings will come from over-expenditure, cheating and the like, the impact will be on the most vulnerable.  We have already reduced Foreign Aid to the poorest of the world’s poor by nearly $5 billion dollars over 4 years.  All the cuts will affect the poorest people.  They will be under the most pressure and scrutiny yet they do not rip the system off nearly as much as the rich.  How many rich people hide their wealth behind tax shelters, family trusts, investments with negative gearing and the rest.  How much tax do the really wealthy really pay?  It was well known that Kerry Packer said that it is everyone’s responsibility to minimise their tax as much as possible and he did it with flair!

Mr Morrison, a Christian, does not get it.  He isn’t the only one but he ought to know better because here in our Christmas stories is God’s program for the world – equitable distribution of wealth and resources.  More than that, the program of God declares that we will be more fulfilled, joyful and free when we are liberated from the pressure and stress of wealth, of over indulgence.  When we share and simplify our lives, we find richer meaning, purpose and hope.  It is upside down but Mary’s Song is so much more joyous and beautiful than the empty words of a treasurer grasping at straws or the powerful of the world flaunting their stuff and lording it over the vulnerable.  Her song is far more visionary and beautiful that the testosterone induced violence and military might that siphons off enormous sums in destroying life and property to achieve nothing but more violence and blood-shed.

One of the projects of our small churches in the Hawkesbury is to support a very small charity started by the family of a woman who worked in Western Papua for UnitingWorld.  The small charity builds wells for the poorest people so they have access to clean water for drinking, cooking and washing.  It is such a small thing but turns their world upside down – and we feel something joyous and freeing to give something to these people whose appreciation and joy is inspiring and grace-filled.  In the simplicity and gratitude of these vulnerable people we encounter God and God’s grace. Let it Be!

By geoffstevenson

When Christmas Comes to A Yearning World

It is heating up, literally and metaphorically.  I went walking this morning and the summer humidity is starting to bite – even in the early morning.  There is also the mounting expectation of Christmas.  Lights emerge in the darkness of summer evenings.  My letter box is full of so many brochures and catalogues making promises of happiness for me and those who will purchase their goods.  The range of gifts is vast and every possible twist of advertising is used to entice me into buying and sharing in the potential joy, delight and happiness.  As I drive the roads into the Hawkesbury I see signs for carols by candlelight, advertising everything from Santa, to rides, fireworks, BBQ’s, children’s fun – oh, and something about God and Jesus.

Christmas, Australia-style is on the way and there is an expectation in the air.  People really do seem to find a different spirit through this season.  I really think there is a hope, albeit subconscious, that enters the collective cultural expectation.  People do smile and offer greetings more liberally and they really expect something – mostly, though, they just don’t know what.  Family, festivity, parties, gifts, holidays, lights, decorations and particular music become central and we look for something deeper and more significant in these things.  Special though they may be, they aren’t the deeper thing, the existential meaning for which we yearn.  Family gatherings are wonderful and special – for those who have families.  They are also part of life throughout the year.  The other things – lights, gifts, music… – are nice but rarely transformative of us or our culture.  In other words they don’t take us to a deeper place where our hopes, dreams and yearning are touched, nurtured and become part of a new reality in our lives.

Christmas sometimes feels to me like a season that calls forth something from within each of us.  It is as if many people are led into another place, a place of promise, of hope and deeper truth but they lose their way amidst the seductions and coloured distractions of the season.  The multitude of bright lights, tinsel, trees, stunning advertising, parties, food and drink, and brightly wrapped gifts distract us and subvert the promise for which we yearn.  We start out looking for a meal that is a culinary delight of the best food and end up with a fast food hamburger and wonder what went wrong.  We seek a musical experience of rich sound and rhythmic excitement (whether classical, jazz or rock) and end up listening to simplistic jingles and annoying pop tunes and wonder where the promise went.  That’s the down side, the let-down, of Christmas in our culture.

Each year the world around us goes through the same motions, looking for the same things, finding fun, satisfaction in over-filled stomachs and too many (unnecessary) gifts.  We have a few days off and then look forward to the new year hoping it might be different, better and that the bad news might miraculously be transformed into good news.  We hope that peace will come to Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.  We hope that someone can resolve the environmental crisis, climate change and all the rest without having too much impact on us.  We want the poor to have enough but are afraid of the change our own lives, even though we yearn for something different because we feel the stress and strain of ownership, accumulation and looking after our wealth

Every year into this repetitive theme, we hear the story of a strange outsider who ventures into the foreground of the Bible’s story of Jesus.  He lives in the wilderness, outside the places of prestige, power and privilege.  He dresses and eats simply and he is weird – meaning he is different from us and ordinary people.  He says and does things that are both intriguing and odd.  We hear him but only from afar because to get too close will demand something of us, something we may not want to really offer up.  So here, on this third week of Advent, just a dozen days out from Christmas, we read the harsh and strange words of the baptising one called John – Luke 3:7-18.

Crowds flock out of Jerusalem, the power base of ancient Israel, into the wilderness around the Jordan River.  They come to hear and respond to this one who touches their yearning and hopes.  It is like the crowds under the Australian sun gathering in parks and halls, in amphitheatres and hillsides to participate in Carols by Candlelight.  This story seems a metaphor of our society’s yearning through the Christmas season, the subconscious searching and the meandering towards deeper meaning.

John, though, is a firebrand!  He lays it on the line right from the start – “If you’re here for a show then buzz off.  If you’re here because you think you’re better than the rest, take your ego somewhere else.  If you’re here to appease your conscience you’re in the wrong place – go away!  Don’t say, ‘Praise the Lord!’ Don’t hang on pious activity and thoughts because it means nothing!  What you need is repentance!  Turn your life around and upside down.  If you have too many clothes then give some to those who don’t have enough – and give of your best!  If you have money stashed away, invested and sitting there for the future, get it out and share it around – with those who have nothing!  If you work in an industry that deals with people, then treat them all fairly – look out for the poor more than the rich because they need it.  If you see injustice towards anyone, then make a stand against it.  God wants JUSTICE!  Justice is what love looks like in public and God is LOVE!”

This is a strange message and runs against the grain of our culture, which is probably why we mostly miss it – every year!  It is a difficult message that we don’t want to hear and certainly find difficult to enact in our lives – it is costly and we aren’t sure because it is contrary to everything we know and hear around us!  Perhaps, though, this is the very thing for which we yearn; the very thing for which our soul longs.  Perhaps this is the way to life and the joy that is promised in the season of Christmas but rarely grasped in an acquisitive, wealthy society that places too much importance on material things.

Maybe the answer to many of the problems that we face in our world would find their resolution if we are transformed in our own lives.  If we turn from our rampant materialism and the gospel of economic prosperity, perhaps our environment might take a break from the abuse we pile onto it.  Perhaps the poor of the world can share in the resources we have but don’t need.  Perhaps we will have time to improve our relationships and take time to listen to and understand those who are different and reach out in love to friend and stranger.  Perhaps when we give of ourselves in new and different (and costly!) ways we will find richer life, deeper community, bigger ‘family’ and peace-filled living that is about life now.  We will discover justice and love ultimately embraces each of us in a sweet embrace of hope, peace and joy together.   Is this utopian?  Perhaps, ask John or Jesus.  Ask yourself what world you would prefer?

By geoffstevenson

Vulnerable Voices Crying in the Wilderness

Who are the powerful people within our world; the world of international affairs and the world of our communities and neighbourhoods?  Who are the people who make the decisions and have power to influence, for good and bad, our lives?  Who are the ones we would name as powerful, strong, wealthy and inhabiting the places of power and prestige within our world?  Who are the ones we honour, defer to or fear?

Each of us would probably come up with an interesting and diverse list.  There would be local people who exert influence and those who have great power in world affairs.  There would be differences between our lists but any list would highlight the reality that there are those who have power and privilege and those who are more typically impacted by the decisions of others and have little power to change things.  The various news outlets we draw upon tend to highlight the important people in the world, people whose lives are more interesting, significant or influential.  These people tend towards those who are in positions of power and influence, wealthy and privileged and they locate themselves in places of power and importance.  World leaders tend to occupy cities and buildings that have high level status.  The USA President lives in the White House.  The Queen of Great Britain and its Commonwealth lives in Buckingham Palace, along with other notable residences.  Our own Prime Minister lives in the Lodge and decisions are made in Parliament House.  These are places of power, influence and authority.  These people are favoured with high respect and honour, security and extensive staff and support services.  They travel by chauffeur-driven car or fly by private jet.  They are accorded high titles and designations and everyone knows who they are.

These people make decisions and invoke particular actions that influence many people – some for good and some for worse.  In recent budgets, severe cuts in particular areas of spending have had serious impact upon some of the more vulnerable people both here and abroad.  Decisions pertaining to defence, for example, impact military personnel and their families.  The decision of nations to choose warfare impacts many innocent people. The decision of Vladimir Putin to support and resource Russian Separatists in the fight against the Ukraine implicates him in the death of those on flight MH17 in July last year.  This created wide circles of impact as innocent people died and their families, friends and wider circle who knew them were suddenly caught up in the deep sadness, grief, pain and anger.  Powerful people making powerful decisions and many innocent, vulnerable people live with the implications.

As we hear stories of national or world affairs, we are aware of our own ordinariness and powerlessness.  Little people in these powerful stories are less than pawns in a game of chess and much more disposable.  The lower we are in terms of education, positional authority, wealth and so on, the more insignificant and powerless we are.  There are many people who are utterly powerless and completely insignificant within their world and are trodden on by powers and authorities.  This injustice lies at the heart of this season of Advent and the readings that come to us.  The justice and hope of God is such that it is into these situations that voices are called forth to proclaim another way.  Such voices of hope break into the cycles of abuse, ignorance and struggle to make claim to another way that is life-giving and grounded in love, equality and inclusive community.

Some of these voices are the obvious ones, the Martin Luther King’s or Mother Teresa’s.  These are people who have found themselves in the midst of struggle and injustice and find a voice from the bottom.  A black minister or an Albanian Nun have little authority or power within the world in which they lived but from within the wilderness of the unjust world they occupied, their voice rose to proclaim the way of God amidst the darkness and wilderness.  In fact it was in the midst of the wilderness that these people lived and spoke, not the places of power or privilege.  They did not come from the important places or represent power and might.  They were little ones who caught the Spirit of God and whose voice boomed out of experienced injustice and struggle and proclaimed the truth of God.

We read this week of another – John the Baptist (Luke 3:1-6).  John was a relative nobody who occupied no place of power but came into the place of anti-power of his world – the wilderness.  He preached and baptised people and called for repentance, a reversal of one’s mind and outlook.  He spoke of forgiveness of sins and new life, a new way in God.  He also pointed the way to the One who was coming, preparing the way of the Lord.  His words come to us from Isaiah 40 in the Old Testament, where there is the image of building a highway across the desert, the wilderness.  The rough places will be smoothed out, the high places brought low, the low places lifted up and the crooked made straight.  The way of the Lord is to be prepared for this coming of salvation and life.  Isaiah originally spoke into the pain of exiled people who were in the foreign land of Babylon – God is coming!  Prepare the way of the Lord!

How might we prepare the way of the Lord – into our own lives and the life of the world and communities in which we live?  What does it mean to prepare the way of the Lord?  How might we open our hearts and minds to the perception and reality of God’s presence?  How might we open our eyes to perceive God’s presence and activity within our world?  How might we join the mission and activity of God to actively be people of hope or light within the darkness of the lives of others?  How might we be a voice crying in the wilderness of human life – amidst the painful places, the grief, the alienation, the hopeless ness, poverty or despair?  What does such a ‘voice’ sound like?  Look like?

There are other voices that we may not immediately identify as those crying in the wilderness for God.  Malala Yousafzai is the Pakistani girl who stood up for female education, especially under the Taliban in her region of North-west Pakistan.  An assassination attempt on her life had her in a critical condition.  She came through and continued her activism despite further threats and became the youngest Nobel Prize Laureate.  Malala became a world name and has had a significant influence – she has been a voice from the lowest places of her culture, crying in the wilderness about justice and righteousness.  Surely, God’s voice in the darkness.

The story of the gospels is of God continually choosing the weak, the vulnerable and the little people of the earth to be a voice for truth and justice.  These are unexpected voices and people who are called to prepare the way of the Lord, the way of justice, righteousness, love and grace.  We are invited into these places to add our voice, prepare God’s way and to celebrate the coming of the Lord into human life and experience.

By geoffstevenson