I am pondering privilege and thinking that I am getting it all wrong, today after a staff meeting and a lunch along with a couple of colleagues I took fruit and cake and sandwiches out to offer them to the homeless in the city centre. It was a good thing to do, far better than throwing the food away, BUT, the more I think about it the more I think that we had it all upside down.
Those people should have been our invited guests, they should have received an invitation from us to come to the feast, to have been served, and honoured, but then I trip over my words…. those people….
We use the phrase those people without thinking, those people, the ones who are not like us, those people who are homeless, those people who suffer from mental health conditions, those people with different coloured skin, those people whose sexuality we find questionable, those people, the others whom we tolerate…
Tolerate, but don’t celebrate….
To tolerate, to put up with, to offer leftovers to. to other-ise, to marginalise….
How close are we to despising the other, the one with whom we disagree, of whom we disapprove, and who are we anyway…
We are people like you, like me, strong competent, an insider in a world that makes me safe, offers me a position of power and safety, a world that shields me…
But as I seek to follow the one who chose to become one with us I find that I can no longer see anyone as other, for we are all connected, all to be celebrated, all should be made welcome, all are loved, valued, all have a place, all carry a divine spark. We are one. I need to work out what this means as I walk into town passing by many homeless people on the way, as I see my neighbour who suffers from deep depression, as I encounter strange comments about my sexuality in meetings by people who are trying to affirm but inadvertently offend because they don’t understand. I ask myself if I am racist, if I am a snob, I ask myself what I fail to see as I negotiate life through relationships with others.
I follow the one, who taking flesh then reached across the barriers of flesh and human laws and touched the other, the unclean, the neglected, the blind the lame, the unwanted, the undesirable, the unmentionable ones….
Jesus life challenges me over and over to a different way of living, not least through remembering his birth, as we prepare to celebrate God enfleshed, surely he invites us to celebrate God in our flesh, in all flesh, a possibility fulfilled when we dare to accept the gift that is given, another way to see and to be….