“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the current president of Liberia and Africa’s first woman president, shares that wisdom in her memoir.
Christmas is the season of remembering. It is a time of remembering the loved ones who graced our lives but are physically no longer with us. It is a time of remembering those who are connected with us as friends and relations. It is also a time of remembering how life comes to us in fragile form and how we are entrusted with it as caregivers.
Each one of us is entrusted with life. We are also entrusted with life of our neighbours of near and far. “All my relations” is how our First Nations sisters and brothers would describe Ubuntu – an African understanding of interconnectedness that one’s humanity is inextricably bound up with that of others.
I remember seeing President Madiba Nelson Mandela dancing his way into the eighth assembly of the World Council of Churches in Harare, Zimbabwe on Dec. 9, 1998. I saw and heard a man who had been jailed for 27 years. He was speaking of justice and compassion for all in South Africa and around the world.
It is fitting that so many folks around the world are celebrating and remembering Madiba as a great example of one who embodied and enlivened Ubuntu. Madiba’s dream of everyone having a place in building a nation based on equity continues to scare many within and outside South Africa.
There are two quotes from Madiba I would like to share as we remember his life:
“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.”
The story of Jesus and his family reminds us of a big dream, of welcoming strangers into our home and of refugees seeking home in Canada; a dream of opening our community to those unfamiliar with our ways, new immigrants trying to put roots down in our neighbourhood; a dream of feeding the hungry, of soup kitchens to feed those who are economically disadvantaged in our neighbourhood; a dream that all are God’s beloved; a dream that each one of us, regardless of how our society labels us, is loved by God. If we genuinely believe that we are all loved by God, no one would be a stranger in our community. Everyone would be a sister or a brother we haven’t met until now. The Christmas story reminds us of Mary and Joseph being strangers in their own country.
May we continue to dare to dream together to provide a safe and sacred place for one another. Let us continue to build a society so that there will always be a room for everyone who knocks on our door. And, most of all, may we continue to remember that we are God’s beloved. Merry Christmas!
Rev. Richard C. Choe ministers with people of Kingston Road United Church. KRUC is proud to have LGBTQ folks as an integral part of its ministry. Choe is an avid photographer who covered events around the world as a photojournalist. He posts his images daily at wondergaze.blogspot.com.