The Living Crib - Christmas in Maban
I have always liked the Christmas Crib. There is something very powerful about the scene of the baby and his parents and the curious visitors huddled together in the simple surroundings of the forgotten place of the stable. This is where the miracle of Christmas happens.
Here in Maban, they dont put up Cribs, They dont have any. But they don't need to. I find myself living in the midst of a living crib. The structures here of stick and grass are what the best of Churches try to recreate. Yet here it is real and authentic. The simplicity of the Bethhlem stable lasts all year round here. Below is where I celebrated Mass with the community in a Village of Congo today.
There are no Christmas lights or displays of Christmas decorations here in Maban. They dont have them. But they don't need them. Everywhere there is a blaze of colour whereever people gather. The randomness and array of colour is fascinating. The landscape is beginning to turn a monotonous brown and tired look as the dry season approaches. But this lack of colour and vibrany is more than made up for the in clothing and the sining and joy of the people. South Sudanese have a great sense of style and I dont know how they manage to emerge from their dusty homes with clothes so clean and pressed, but they do.
Children here are not glued to mobile devices or social media. They play at Christmas with yesterday's toys. A game of football played with a burst football or a even a sandal
is played with brothers and friends with a much enthusiasm as if they had the best and newest footballs on the market. The metal hoop that was played with last week gives as much joy at Christmas as it did when the children first played with it.
These children did not have a fridge full of fizzy drinks. They didnt have fizzy drinks at all. But they found satisfaction is reaching into this barrel of clear fresh water.
And I am sure these children would have welcomed new toys this Chirstmas. They would probably have enjoyed some ice cold fizzy drinks in the 35 degree heat. And we should do all we can to help these children have access to the goods of the modern world. We must do all we can to ensure they are allowed live in peace and not fear war and death.
However what strikes me again and again is that these children just like their parents have something that so many people in countries of plenty have not. They are time rich. There is no rush. They are love and stability rich. There children exude a joy that comes from the knowledge of being loved and of belonging to their village and community. These children and their families though among the poorest on the planet, actually have the joy and peace that the best Christmas Cribs seek to communicate. Here it is living. The miracle of Christmas - the miracle of the God of Love and Life is powerfully present in this forgotten place of South Sudan.
I am blessed to be here. Of course I miss family and friends at home and you are very much in my thoughts and prayer and I hope to see you all soon. I hope over the next few days to update you on other things going on in our work here. For now I wish you all a share in the Joy and Love of Christmas and wish you a more simple and joy filled life in 2019.
Thank you all for your ongoing messages and prayers and practical support.