The Holy Family were Homeless
With the approach of Advent, we remember Joseph and a very pregnant Mary left their hometown and arrived in Bethlehem with no place to live, and Mary ready to give birth. They struggled to find a home just like many young families today. Mary and Joseph and their new baby ended up staying in a place that was not suitable for their needs, just like many young families today. The stable was cold, open to the elements, had animals in very close quarters, with all that entails, plus there seems to be a whole range of strange, uninvited visitors turning up. And these visitors were not Housing First, offering the young family a range of support services and a better place to live.
Mary & Joseph would qualify to be on the social housing register, especially after the birth of their child. They would qualify for emergency housing and may end up living in a motel alongside others who are also struggling to find a safe secure place to live that meets their needs.
Our most vulnerable whānau have a lot in common with the Holy Family – they struggle to find a home suitable for their needs. I don’t think our vulnerable whānau should accept a barn to live in, as we know that safe, affordable housing is essential to wellbeing and to enabling people to thrive.
Advent provides a framework to consider the needs of our most vulnerable during the weeks ahead and the work our members are doing.
Advent week 1: Hope & Faith
May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:13
Some people we work with struggle to find hope. They are at rock bottom and have given up hope for a better future. They have no faith in the government, the system, and people in general. Our members work tirelessly to build trusting relationships with the people they work with and spark the hope for a better future and the faith that this can happen.
Advent week 2: Peace
PEACE I leave with you; my PEACE I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Methodists have a strong tradition of being a voice for the poor, oppressed and marginalised in our communities. With the regulations about vaccinations which impact on people’s lives, it has created a divide. However, we need to find a way of peace, a way where we can agree to disagree, like John Wesley said. We need to find the peace of respecting two opposing views and realising that everyone is worthy of God’s love and peace.
Advent week 3: Joy
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
The global pandemic has affected the marginalised in our communities disproportionately. They live on the margins and under the radar. They make a living by any means they can. They have very little joy in their lives, and often seek to numb the pain with drugs and alcohol as this is the only comfort they know. However they find joy when they are accepted, and are supported to realise their authentic dreams. At these times they glimpse the grace and joy of God’s transforming love. Joy can come in the smallest acts of kindness, the unexpected joy of connection when someone makes eye contact or offers them a coffee.
Advent week 4: Love
For God so LOVED the world that he sent his only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
The Advent story has a wide range of characters – angels, kings, shepherds, farm animals, new parents and a baby. When you spend a moment to think about it, you realise that this is not a natural grouping of people. Shepherds would probably not feel all that comfortable in the presence of kings, and they were frightened of the angels. The kings would not normally travel a great distance to visit a new family in a stable full of farm animals and shepherds.
Yet, all these characters felt the awe and wonder of transforming love. This love transcends economic and social status, and all the other points of difference that so easily divides us. Whether you are rich or poor; cool or nerdy; gay, straight, or questioning; vote Labour, Green, Act, Te Paati Māori, or National; Pakeha or Māori; it is irrelevant, as everyone is worthy of the love of God.
This unconditional love is what our members show and offer to the people they work with. We give a voice to their concerns when we advocate for them.
Carol Barron, National Coordinator
03 375 0512 | 027 561 9164 | Carol@MethodistAlliance.org.nz