Monday, 21 December 2015

All I want for Christmas

A 12 year-old girl in the Midlands has apparently saved her pocket money for a year in order to buy over 200 presents for children who would otherwise receive none. She was reported as saying that it wasn’t fair that some should go without.

Indeed; “out of the mouths of babes” comes simple but profound truth. Sadly, though, she will probably discover as she grows older that there are many things in the world which are not fair. Some we cannot avoid: the accident and illness that affects old and young, good and bad, alike. But others are of our own making.

So here’s my letter to Santa, repeated in a prayer to God, for a sack full of fair deals, with suitable Bible texts to back them, and in no particular order. Unfortunately, current laws prevent me from nailing my theses to the door of number 10 Downing Street or tying them to the railings of Westminster.

All I want for Christmas is:

·       For politicians to stop saying “Yes but” whenever they are presented with unpleasant facts such as one million people accessing food banks. People need bread today, not the promise of jam tomorrow that assumes current policies will actually bring universal change. Matthew 5:37

·       For internet trolls and pub philosophers to start respecting people with whom they disagree instead of slagging them off or even threatening them. Such behaviour causes distress and contributes nothing to sensible debate about often complex issues. Proverbs 10:18; Matthew 5:21-22

·       For customer service and public service personnel to recapture afresh the true meaning of service, and to view their role as actually being to help people in need rather than assume they are stupid, time wasters, or on the make. Mark 10:45

·       For the media, and the tabloids in particular, to refrain from sowing discord and hatred through exaggerated or nuanced reporting based on what they think their audience wants to hear and which that audience is simply not equipped to see through. Matthew 5:37; James 3:5-6

·       For a widespread recognition that acquiring more stuff is neither necessary nor conducive to greater happiness. Matthew 6:25,31-34

·       For a grassroots movement to denounce and resist the demonic power of “market forces” which is merely a synonym for greed, so that more people can actually afford to rent or buy homes where they wish instead of being condemned to pay rip-off private rents so that they are unable to raise a deposit for their own small pad. Isaiah 5:8; Amos 8:4-7

·       For a greater sense of international responsibility so that people made homeless and hungry for whatever reason in other countries are supported by the surplus readily available in the west. Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 4:28

·       For proper long-term public investment in public transport and renewable energy to reduce toxic emissions and road congestion, especially in cross-country road and rail routes, and an end to Nimbyism which mostly focuses on personal preferences, a dislike of change, and not on the common good. Numbers 20:14-21

·       For the Christian churches to offer short, simple seeker-friendly worship and teaching opportunities, especially in town and city centres, on weekdays at times when people are naturally out and about. 1 Corinthians 14:9-12

·       For the care of the elderly to become a laudable vocation once again, instead of a profit-making, low-resourced enterprise it is increasingly becoming. Leviticus 19:32; Matthew 15:3-9

·       For all kinds of work to be seen (by everyone, but by Christians especially) as building blocks for the Kingdom of God, and not simply a means to a personal end. Colossians 3:23

·       For international peace and co-operation among “allies” rather than competition between nations. Micah 4:2-5

·       For a major reduction in waste, a determined resistance to a throwaway culture, and a fresh embracing of the value of contentment. Philippians 4:11-13

·       For a universal recovery of joy in the small and simple things of life, for the beauty of nature and the wonders of science and its discoveries, not just at Christmas but all year round. Psalm 104:10-26

·       For us all to learn afresh how to “think on these things”: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy….And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

Pope Francis has declared that 2016 should be a year of mercy, a jubilee year which began on 8 December 2015. “Mercy is not an emotion, but a practical response to need.”1 May we indeed have a peaceful Christmas and a merciful new year.

Think and talk

What else might you add to this list?


1.  R.T. France, The Gospel according to Matthew, IVP 1985, p. 172 (commenting on Matthew 9:27; see also Matthew 5:7)

© Derek Williams 2015. Material in these blogs may be reproduced for personal or small group use with due acknowledgement.