The Capacity to Share

One of the activities of my life is being convener of the Connections UnitingCare Anti-Poverty Awards. I was looking back over my address to a previous year's award presentation. It not only related the spirit of the awards but also the spirit of attempting to live a faith-filled life (whether or not overtly religious). Here's what I wrote:

John Lennon has a lot to answer for. At pivotal dates throughout the year his "So this is Christmas" plays on endless loop inside my head. It is a musical conscience... conscience because the next line asks "So this is Christmas ...and what have you done?"

John, what do you mean?..... Is there accusation in the question "What-HAVE-you-done!" or am I guilty of inaction "What have YOU done?" International Anti-Poverty Sunday is one of those pivotal dates. The song plays in my head. What have you done? What have you done? And in the midst of Make Poverty History campaigns and Millennium Development Goals what has our little faith community - stuck smack bang in the middle of a mass of self-sufficiency of Canterbury - done?

The fundamental difficulty with self-sufficiency is not so much that people don't give of themselves, (although that might be a consequence of it). The fundamental difficulty is that that people don't "take" .... or more specifically they see themselves as on a mission to ‘rise above' vulnerability. If we reach the magic goal of self-sufficiency, we don't have to immerse ourselves in the issues and dilemmas of our community. We don't have to share our problems with the world. We don't have to seek solutions in society. And as a consequence of all that we certainly don't have to have society bringing its problems to us. We lose the capacity to share.

By accident of birth my faith tradition is Christianity. Its stories have moved from oral to written, been translated across languages, been interpreted and reinterpreted, been used selectively and opportunistically. Yet, for all of this, the stories of a young bloke named Yeshua still flicker with an inextinguishable flame, a heavy bias towards life! And one of the ways this Yeshua fanned the flame, it seems to me, is to invite people into connection, collaboration, community. Rich or poor, beggar or tax collector we need "the other," we need to take and give. We need to share.

If this little faith community values that message, then it needs to share it, humbly and carefully with the World. And over three years of Anti-Poverty Awards I think our emphasis on this message has grown markedly. That is, we are looking to recognise and support young people who say "This is not about me giving the World ‘an answer' to poverty. This is about me being willing to dedicate my life to walking humbly with fellow humanity, to taking on board its wisdom and being able to share my wisdom when it is suitably ripe and I know it is ready for sharing."

So what have we done? We have attempted to inspire you, your friends and families and this community with the "sharing stories" of seventeen young people over the last three years. Last year, some of you may remember, I was very clear about that word "inspire." It does not mean putting a person on a pedestal: - the self sufficient hero hoisted above to world to dictate "how ‘it' is done." It means "in-breathing of spirit" - catching some of the quiet, determined passion of these young people so that we might work with, in and through them to understand our world, grow with it, love it and create life. That inextinguishable flame burns brightly in these six young people ...a little bit of Yeshua alive in the World today. That's worth sharing.

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