|Pen and Ink Reflections||
How do you feel about being called a dog - and/or not quite human, or sub-human, unnatural, intrinsically disordered, not biological, unclean, heathen, pagan, infidel, heretic, wild, rabid, crazy, illegal, alien, or one of the long, long, list of ethnic, gendered, and other slurs some continue to endure today? So many people know this only too well. If you have more than one type of marginalised human identities then you may face this even more intensely. Today’s Gospel story puts such ‘dogs’ firmly in the centre of life and faith, in the figure of the one named as a Canaanite woman. Note well: this is someone not even given a name. For denying people’s true names and authentic identities is a game as old as time, and it is still well and truly alive today. Every day, there are people treated like dogs who, at best, can only aspire to the crumbs which fall from the tables of the privileged. This story therefore is still our story as a human race, and the light it brings comes from speaking in crumbs…
'We gather in the darkness of this Christmas night to celebrate - to celebrate that into the midst of darkness comes light and life born in the frailty of a human child. For darkness is where incarnation begins. The glorious prologue to John’s Gospel brings this into shimmering perspective - what has come to being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:5). But, as the wonderful poet and artist Jan Richardson expresses it:
'the deepest darkness is the place where God comes to us. In the womb, in the night, in the dreaming; when we are lost, when our world has come undone, when we cannot see the next step on the path; in all the darkness that attends our life, whether hopeful darkness or horrendous, God meets us. God’s first priority is not to do away with the dark but to be present to us in it. I will give you the treasures of darkness, God says in Isaiah 45:3, and riches hidden in secret places. For the Christ who was born two millennia ago, for the Christ who seeks to be born in us this day, the darkness is where incarnation begins'...