Both the Christmas story and the goings on in our country at Christmas remind me of this disintegration. Having spent two Christmases in the east end of Glasgow, we were painfully aware of community disintegration.
We were blessed to be included in the ‘This Morning’ Pass the Parcel toy appeal each year and so had an abundance of toys to distribute…and we needed them. We were also blessed to have some good health workers for the local authority who sent us in the right direction for families in the most need.
I remember one Christmas going to a property at the top of a 15 story block of flats in an area called Royston Hill, which was in our district. Maybe about a hundred people living in that building, maybe more. I had toys for a 3 year old, a 7 year old and a 13 year old and a food parcel. I said good bye to the car at the bottom of the flats, and went into the building. The place smelled like a public toilet. I stepped into the lift and you literally gasped for breathe.
I came to a flat on what seemed like the 29th floor and knocked. As I knocked, the door opened…it was the three year old, half clothed, dirty. I asked her if mummy was in…she toddled off…a few second later the 13 year old, not at school, arrived at the door. I told him why I was here and He invited me in.
As I opened the door into the hall way, the dog had split open a cuddly toy, stuffing everywhere, there was dog food and cat litter all over the floor.
In the living room was mum, swollen eyes and tear stained t-shirt. There was an old second hand sofa and one small table, a lamp without a shade and a one bar electric fire. No telly, no toys, no pictures, a smelly dirty carpet, and some cerial bowls with the remains of breakfast with no milk.
Mum was quiet…I explained why I had come. She explained how sorry she was about the mess and that she’d just been moved there the previous month away from a violent husband and that she can’t cope being on her own.
We had a chat, a prayer, I gave her the toys, went back to the car and brought back some more food. It was two days before Christmas.
We’re looking for community. Eugene Petersen declares in his translation of John, that ‘the word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.’ But still, Jesus wasn’t recognised and need a John the Baptist to point him out.
Where is Jesus in these situations? With the broken…waiting for his community of people to follow his example.