A new Director for Christmas
This is my first From the Director column in The Far East magazine. I became the Regional Director on November 23rd, the Feast of Saint Columban, for a period of three years.
I am in the unique position of writing both the Director’s column and the editorial for the next two issues of the magazine. We will have a new editor for the March 2012 edition of The Far East.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Fr Noel Connolly, the outgoing Director, for his leadership of the Australia and New Zealand region over the last six years. (A Regional Director may be appointed to two terms of three years).
In the context of the magazine, the Director’s column (From the Director) has become increasingly popular with readers who obviously liked what Fr Noel wrote. They have appreciated his missionary perspectives and challenging insights written in accessible language. What is more, we have received comments from readers expressing that he has given them hope for the future.
I hope that Fr Noel continues to write for The Far East when he has time. Our readers, including myself, will look forward to what he has to write about our contemporary world, observing it through ‘the lens’ of mission.
By the time you receive The Far East, the season of Advent will be well under way and the wonderful feast of Christmas just over the horizon, ready to emerge into our lives with its mystery and magic (magic in the sense of attraction or captivation).
Advent is a season when we wait for someone we love, look forward to their appearance with anticipation and longing. How exciting it will be to see them again and be together! We wait for people to come home or we may be the person coming home. This is our experience and it applies to our homely God as well. Some people are just waiting to go home to God. But others are praying that God will come to them and fill them with God’s presence. It happens to people often but they don’t talk about it in case others think they are odd or too religious.
When I worked in Jamaica I asked a Rastafarian man to carve me a set of Christmas figures for a crib that we intended to set up outside a small Church in the parish. (Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie, the former Emperor of Ethiopia is God incarnate, the reincarnation of Jesus Christ). This young sculptor agreed to do the work but told me that I had to describe the figures in the Christmas story to him and what they meant to me. I found it a challenging experience.
How would you describe the Christmas scene to someone who has no knowledge of Christmas? I challenge you; what would you tell them?
Christmas is not a ‘baby’ feast in which increasingly secular images can only be described as ‘twee’. Christmas is the unfolding story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, a complete human being who confronted evil and defeated it. He is God, let us celebrate!
Fr Gary Walker
Read more from The Far East, November/December 2011