Sunday, November 30, 2014

Set the Oppressed Free

Young boy in the village of  El Ahualamo MX 

I travelled last month to Mexico to visit my family for the first time since April 2013 when my mother died. My dad has struggled with his health and it has not been easy for him to find a new normal without her around. Last year we quickly packed up Mom's clothes and personal things but during this trip we went through cupboards, shelves and drawers more thoroughly. Many of her books were full of mildew and had to be burned. I found myself drawn to old family photographs, scrapbooks and handwritten recipes in the old wooden recipe box. Most of the other things she had collected over the years were not worth bringing back to Canada. My house is full of stuff, too full in fact of items I never use. One of our daughters said, a little facetiously, that we need a good fire because she doesn't want to sort through our belongings in the future.

I did bring home these Goebel porcelain pieces entitled "Flight into Egypt". Mary and Joseph are depicted as refugees, fleeing the evil wrath of King Herod with the young child Jesus. I recently discovered Steve Bell, a Canadian singer-songwriter who has two thoughtful Advent -Christmas albums I have listened to often over the past few weeks. The song "Refugee" from the album "Keening for the Dawn" is based on a poem by Malcolm Guite.

We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,

Or cosy in a crib beside the font,

But he is with a million displaced people

On the long road of weariness and want...

Church under an ancient sycamore tree in El Ahualamo, MX

The needs of poor and displaced people in the world are so great and complex that it is hard to know how to make a difference. Jesus stated his purpose and ministry in Luke 4:18 when he quoted the words of Isaiah.

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free..."

There are ways we can make a difference in our neighbourhoods, cities, country and world with our time and money. I know several people who came to Canada as refugees. I know even more who are sick, lonely and discouraged. I know of good organizations that assist people in need around the world in a respectful manner.

One thing is certain...I have no needs this season by good fortune of birth, family, citizenship and employment. With that comes responsibility to use and share wisely what I have been given.

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