I wonder as I wander” say the words of the carol and I do the same as I stroll the streets of Copenhagen this Christmas time. It is my fifth year here and yet I still long for the light in the enveloping darkness of winter. I am not used to it.
As I wander I wonder … admiring the twinkly little lights dispelling the darkness, gathering people together and showing the way. It is the season of good cheer and I notice the joy, the friendship and the revelry. I wander the streets in Advent with hope and joy.
Tough times ahead
This year many are wandering the streets of Europe looking for shelter, safe passage and hospitality as they flee horrendous conflict and hardship.
In the season of Advent we journey from darkness into light as we prepare for the celebration of the coming of the Messiah at Christmas. Nowhere in our continent is the darkness more obviously experienced than in Ukraine.
On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day it will be 10 months to the day since the Russian invasion began. Now for many hours each day. Whole cities are thrown into literal darkness as a result of the frequent power cuts caused by Russian attacks.
The Light which no darkness can overcome entered human history 2,000 years ago.
It is his birth we celebrate. And his name we give to the festival: CHRISTmas.
On December 7 and every Wednesday during the season the people of Europeare gathering to pray for Ukraine.
People wander through virtual space, meeting across 42 countries of the Diocese in Europe to hold those experiencing unnatural darkness in the light.
Make them feel welcome!
The Bible reminds people that the coming of Jesus Christ in history was to herald a reign of peace and justice, of the laying down of weapons, of the lack of fear for tomorrow. It speaks of unimaginable comfort where disparity and disadvantage are levelled, because people come to God’s justice, mercy and peace.
The Bible calls us to forgive our enemies, to plead that God would change hearts and show mercy on those fighting in a war they did not choose and do not understand – not just in Ukraine but in Myanmar, Ethiopia and elsewhere.
People are wandering the world on account of war, flood, famine and climate change in search of peace, in search of livelihood, security and dignity. Life is precarious and the travels enable people to rebuild their lives somewhere safe.
Migration can enhance host communities’ job prospects. It boosts the economy. It allows migrants to help themselves, help their children and become active citizens of a country that they feel part of.
We need to counter the huge prejudice against those who wander – refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants and the fear that they evoke. It is damaging and degrading.
Moving between countries in search of a better life is completely normal. After all, very few of us live in the house that we were born in.
Greatest journey ever told
I invite you to wander through Scripture this season – to open a virtual advent calendar which offers a window on the lives of people in Europe – to learn of the stories of hardship and hope, wanderings and wanderings, hostility and hospitality, vulnerability and security. They can be found via europe.anglican.org.
There is no journey greater than the God who left the heavens to journey as a vulnerable baby born as a refugee child – without shelter or safety.
Let us pause and unwrap the real story and the harsh reality.