November 30, 2023
By Will Postma
“And they will call him Immanuel, which means God with us.” So said Matthew in sharing the story of Jesus’ birth, reminding listeners and readers of the prophetic words of Isaiah.
This season of Advent we are reminded of how much we want to see peace but also hope, joy and love in our world. PWRDF’s vision of a truly just, healthy and peaceful world is even more compelling and urgent.
The years of COVID-19 have led me back to the words and wisdom of C.S. Lewis, whose death 60 years ago we marked in November: “I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief.” (A Grief Observed); “If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.” (Mere Christianity)
This Advent, we are reminded of an enormity of grief, what we see in the painful trauma and displacement across all of Israel and Palestine, and what we also see in Sudan, Haiti, Armenia and in Mali, where I spent time in my early twenties. Then, I basked in the warmth and welcome of communities from all religious and ethnic backgrounds and learned so much. Today, in northern Mali, across Gaza, on the roads in Sudan where millions are fleeing from conflict, there is an enormity of grief, a cry for peace, a search for the right road.
I draw hope in the candidacy of Denis Mukwege, Executive Director of the Panzi Foundation, PWRDF’s partner in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as he puts himself forward for that country’s Presidency. He aims to restore the long-forgotten dignity and rights to the Congolese people. I draw hope in the words that a young person told me when I was visiting PWRDF partners in Colombia earlier this year… “you invest in our dignity.” And I draw hope and so much learning from our Indigenous partners in Canada, where the significance of peace and right relationship with all of Creation is paramount.
Immanuel. God with us. May God especially be with those who are hurting, fearful, angry and grieved. May his presence help us respond to the enormity of grief with an enormity of compassion, one that helps us find and travel a better road to caring for all our neighbours. And as we move through the weeks of Advent with prayer and reflection, let us anticipate the birth of Jesus that brought lowly shepherds and lofty kings to a humble stable, along with a promise of hope.