By Roger O’Halloran
Given the year(s) of lockdowns and the specter of COVID-19 mutations threatening ongoing disruption we approach Christmas perhaps more ready than ever for the birth of a saviour. Of course, the Christmas message is not about being magically saved by the birth of Jesus. The message of the birth is about being open to change.
The birth of my children was possibly the biggest change to my life. While we all might be described, as sons and daughters of God, I was not asked to be a parent to THE Son of God. I may have been better prepared if I took a lesson from the parents of Jesus.
Reduced to a single image, as unfortunately we so often are, I think of Mary as serene and Joseph as humble. However, that ignores the part of the story about Mary thoroughly interrogating the request before accepting the challenge. I’m sure too that Joseph must have more than wondered about the theory of a virgin birth, but we are informed he stayed the course.
Perhaps serenity and humility are achieved when one comes to an acceptance that ultimately life is actually disjointed and somewhat dislocated. Resilience appears to develop most in those who accept inescapable change as an opportunity to improve. Rather than trying to keep everything as it “always” has been, or expect a return to “normal”, they face the challenge and take the opportunity to imagine other ways of doing things, such as giving birth in a stable.
COVID-19 has seen many livelihoods threatened. Responses have varied between railing against the measures taken in the interest of public health, to imagining other ways of living (such as the so-called Great Resignation). Government responses have varied between exploring alternative ways of doing business, and finding commendable new ways to protect the vulnerable, to pandering to the vested interests wanting to keep their privilege.
A combination of the attributes of Mary and Joseph might assist to meet the challenge of significant disruption and change that COVID-19 continues to produce. Serenely and humbly interrogate the challenge, imagine and investigate alternate to “normal” paths forward, and bravely proceed together to meet new challenges as they arise. Their approach delivered a dynamic son. Practiced more broadly might it deliver the possibility of a more positive and dynamic culture?
Indeed, beyond the approach of Mary and Joseph to the pregnancy and birth, the entire life of Jesus challenges our acceptance of cultural “norms” that fail to enable all to live life to the fullest. I am rewarded every day by being part of an organisation where for over 60 years people (program participants, donors and supporters generally) have encouraged one another in this vision and mission. Thank you all for integrating this important message of Christmas into the life of Palms.
If you know anyone looking to be part of the Great Resignation send them here to make an enquiry about this great alternative. So that we might encourage and support those who bravely pursue this path please give to Palms Christmas Appeal here.