As some of you know this is the time of year where I struggle most living in an estate. The vast amounts of house bling that vomit itself onto the front, rear and any other aspect of local properties, betrays a deeper struggle.
Everyday I see people getting off the bus with burgeoning bags. In school, students are exchanging cards and gifts at an alarming rate. The man in the red suit riding on a sleigh has a busy night in Marsh Farm. The reality is, that in February many gifts will be taken away again: this time by men in black suits driving BMWs. The loan sharks often are the real beneficiaries of an estate Christmas.
Sadly the reality is also that Christmas, with all its excesses, will bring violenece and strife. More than just the office party fights- Christmas here means a rise in domestic violence levels, in child abuse and who knows what else.
I struggle with the whole thing on most occasions, asking how could the celebration of the coming of Christ have become this. Shouldn't we just disown it as Christians?
BUT this year something has challenged me.
Its been brewing in my heart for a few weeks but came to a focus when I went to see my school show. After the resounding success of the original run the kids put on one more show. They were amazing. I am so proud to be part of a school community that has so much talent.
They then went on to sing a song to the head teacher. I nealry winced, but then the Head nailed what was actually going on. She said, "not only are you incredibly talented, you are incredibly generous of spirit".
Thats what the estate has- generosity of spirit. People want to give. In my time here people have given without question. They have been so generous to me. And it is a huge challenge to me. To see through my asthetic hang ups, through my middle class concerns and to receive the generosity of my community. After all- the same Jesus who we celebrate at Christmas is the Jesus who celebrated a prostitute pouring perfume on his feet.. the poor you will always have with you.. what she has done will be remembered.. she has done a beautiful thing.
Praying this Christmas will be beautiful.