• Celebration or Mourning?

    Posted by John

    22 December, 2011

    It’s just a few days out from Christmas. The last weeks have been filled with work parties, Christmas drinks, family gatherings and final catch-ups with friends for the year. A time for celebration!

    Celebration is something I like to do well.

    At the same time, at work I’m looking back at the past year at Micah Challenge. Thinking about work for me necessarily means thinking about global poverty and the significant problems faced by so many in our world.

    As always, reflecting gives me good reason for mourning.

    Celebration or mourning? They don’t seem to go together. Can I really celebrate this Christmas when I know the reality of the pain and suffering in our world? As I see it, there are 3 possible responses to that question:

    Option 1: Mourning wins – in this case I feel guilty about celebrating when there is so much pain, so I don’t celebrate

    Option 2: Celebration wins – this is the option that most people take – I switch off the problems in my mind (either consciously or sub-consciously) so that I can celebrate properly

    But neither of those options work for me. I think they lack integrity, and I think the reality is that nobody wins.

    Option 3 is to try to work out how to celebrate in the midst of suffering. And I want to suggest this is the Christian way.

    The Christian gospel, the good news, is not just ‘light’, but ‘light into darkness’. The good news is not just ‘forgiveness’ but ‘forgiveness in the midst of sinfulness’. The good news is not just ‘wholeness’ but ‘wholeness that restores brokenness’.

    It seems to me that God’s people in the Old Testament and Jesus himself chose to celebrate God’s goodness not despite the brokenness around them, but in the midst of the brokenness of the world.

    In my experience, the people that can enter into the pain of life are also those that really know how to celebrate the grace of God.

    Emmanuel – God with us. God entered into history for our redemption. What response do we have to that? Surely, we have no choice but to celebrate.

    Emmanuel – God with us. Surely the amazing hope that brings means we don’t have to switch off the problems of the world in order to celebrate.  

    So, I'd ask you not to forget your brothers and sisters who are suffering at this time of year – but also don’t forget to celebrate...properly!

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    John Beckett (known to most of us as JB) is the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia. JB desires to see more and more Christians taking on justice, mercy and humility as a way of life and speaking, praying and acting for and with the global poor.