God in solidarity with us
The 2011 Christmas message from the Rev. Alistair Macrae, President, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly.
Words come in and out of fashion. New words keep getting invented. What words can we find for what we celebrate at Christmas? Our Basis of Union challenges us to find “fresh words” to describe the timeless gospel.
The word “solidarity” came into vogue, I think, in the 1970s. I’m not sure who first coined the word. I associate it with the Polish workers struggles for justice who called their movement by that name.
It speaks to me of “along-sidedness”. Now there’s an ugly word that maybe didn’t exist until a few seconds ago! I think “solidarity” is a good word to describe what we celebrate at Christmas. God came alongside us. God became human, incarnate, in a supreme act of identification and “solidarity”. In Jesus, God embraces our humanity in all its beauty and fragility, its brokenness and redemption.
We also use the word solidarity to express a dimension of Christian discipleship in which we seek to be in solidarity with the poor, the broken, the vulnerable and in some way bear witness to God’s solidarity with us. We are especially mindful of those in prison at this time, those in detention centres around the world and in Australia, the homeless, the stateless, the grieving and the desperate.
We’ve seen some ugly things in Australia over the last year. We have seen a dialogue of fear and distrust overtake that of the “big idea”, the “welcome for all” and the qualities of welcome and warmth that have made us proud to be Australians.
I don’t think this has made anyone happy. I don’t think anyone wins when the conversation is about you vs. me. The conversation that brings out the best in us is you and me together.
That’s the space that Jesus was interested in – the place where we come together and forget our differences.
Maybe the word in scripture that comes closest to “solidarity” is the familiar name we give to Jesus, “Immanuel”. God with us. God in solidarity with us.
That’s my hope for Australia and Australians this Christmas. That we can be together, alongside each other, in solidarity – the have with the have nots, the lucky with the not so lucky, the “boat person” and the citizen, the weak and alone brought into the family.
That’s the gift of Christmas.
At Christmas the Word became flesh and dwelt among us in loving solidarity.
Thanks be to God.
The Rev. Alistair Macrae
Uniting Church in Australia
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