Christmas is coming…

Christmas is coming, and the geese are getting fat….be sure to put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do. If you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you.

For those who remember that nursery rhyme….

It is November, not yet half way through. Advent Sunday is more than two weeks away.

Advent, that time of waiting, expectant, excited, a sparkle, which is altogether missing in Lent, added to the quiet meditations.

But when I look around, I do not see Advent. I see Christmas – but not a Christmas that Christ would recognise. I see Greed, Waste, Substitution, Commercialism, Heartlessness, Lack of Compassion.

I see shops laden with goods; most of it totally superfluous, expensive, gaudy…I see things which beggar belief in a country where so many are dependent on food banks, who do not earn enough to make ends meet……if one believes that, or is it just another media-fuelled piece of propaganda?

I see the adverts, portraying cosy homes with perfect families, beautifully gender-divided, white middle-class, comfortably off….the covert message – if you cannot or do not live like this, then you are a failure….

Buy this, have that – or be seen as deprived, poor, selfish, beneath contempt….

Then I look at pictures of refugees, arriving at our borders, with the clothes they are wearing & a few items hurriedly shoved into a bag, clutching their children & the shreds of their dignity.

I see the newspaper headlines blaring & glaring: THEY ARE COMING FOR YOUR JOBS! THEY ARE COMING FOR YOUR BNEFITS, YOUR HEALTHCARE, YOUR EDUCATION….

Telling us that our communities, our language, our culture are under threat from these swarms of possible terrorists…

I see a father, holding his two children & his fear & his despair; his face crumpled in tears & humiliation.

I see the small son of heartbroken parents, lying on a beach, dead.

I see a perfect little black girl, her hair neatly-braided, floating face-down, cradled in the lapping waves….

And still, after all these years, I see the East African woman, my sister, forced to leave her sick child alone in the desert to die, in order to save the other three.

How many of our “own” people will spend this Christmas alone, on the streets, hungry, cold & forgotten?

How many houses in our country lie empty? How many beds will have no occupant? How much will we eat & how much will we throw away? How many gifts will we receive that we neither need nor want…

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat…

But first there is Advent. Can we shut out the commercial clamour for that precious few weeks and consider where the need truly lies and can we think about putting a penny in the old man’s hat…

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