O King whom all the people desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save humanity whom you made from clay.
It was a puzzle to Suellen and Tim how they came to think the way they did. Good Catholics all through life they did their bit for parish and Church. But within a very short period, and imperceptibly, the meaning and purpose of their faith shifted considerably. They found themselves leading a social justice group encompassing three adjoining parishes. Their children joked with them about going all left wing, but secretly the children were very proud of their dedicated parents.
One thing had become clear for both Suellen and Tim: their faith could never again be separated from the plight of the excluded and the oppressed. While it was hard for them to know where to start, they just started, and with the support of other faith-filled people they have become very active with and on behalf of the marginalised.**
Their Christmas prayer is that of the carol: ‘Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today’. On their Christmas cards however they altered it to read ’Cast out injustice and enter in, be born in the world today’.
He lifts up the lowly from the dust- 1 Samuel 2:8a (Hannah’s Song)
From the dungheap he raises the poor
He has pulled down the princes from their thrones- Luke 1:52-53 (Mary’s Song)
And exalted the lowly
The hungry he has filled with good things,
The rich sent empty away
Gracious God, you sent your Son to free humanity from the power of death. May we who celebrate the coming of Christ into our humanity contribute to a culture where there is room for all and enough for all. We ask you this through the same Christ our Lord, Amen.
Come! Let us dare those grim domains- From the Australian carol “The Little Town where Christ was Born” by John Wheeler
Where Drought the Red Marauder reigns,
Until we find beyond the dawn
The little town where Christ was born.
O who will come with me today
To find the little town where Christ was born
‘O little town of Bethlehem’ sung by Sarah McLachlan (lyrics below)
|O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth
|How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel
* The seven ‘O Antiphons’ (they each begin with ‘O’) are age-old songs that are part of the Catholic Church’s liturgy for Evening Prayer. Each evening, for Advent’s last eight days leading up to Christmas, one of the antiphons is sung. Each antiphon addresses Jesus with a unique title taken from the Prophet Isaiah.
**If you would care to know more about a Christian perspective on social justice go to Social Policy Connections.