Christian Comment with the Rev Simon Topping Methodist minister, Stroud
ONE of our sons was recently part of a Methodist Church group that went to Nicaragua to support a project called Street Child World Cup.
The project not only seeks to highlight the desperate plight of vulnerable street children across the world but is also supporting their participation in their own 'World Cup' which will take place in Brazil before the more famous World Cup is staged.
The group from the UK met with Christian organisations and churches who are working with Nicaragua’s street children on a daily basis and one of the ideas that kept emerging from these encounters was that 'God is not neutral'.
In other words, God sides with the poor and vulnerable within our world.
It was interesting to hear this same idea being echoed by Pope Francis in his recent writing entitled 'Joy of the Gospel'.
In this pastoral letter the Pope talks about “God’s preferential option for the poor”.
These days we often hear politicians talking about fairness, and perhaps we assume that a correct understanding of fairness requires us to look at things from a position of neutrality.
But what Pope Francis and those Christian workers in Nicaragua appear to be saying is that God’s approach to fairness is not based on neutrality (is that ever possible anyway?) but rather upon an attitude of solidarity with the poor and compassion for their suffering.
In other words, divine fairness is based on what is fair for the poor, not the rich.
I believe the story of Christmas reminds us that God is not neutral.
When God chooses to come to earth in human form to liberate humankind from sin and darkness, God appears as a vulnerable baby, born to a homeless, unmarried couple in a land oppressed by an occupying power.
The announcement of the birth of Jesus comes first to poor shepherds, working on the margins of society, not to King Herod in his palace.
So as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this Christmas, let us allow God’s preferential option for the poor to fill our hearts and shape our living.