Those who are first, will be last

Tomorrow we enter the season of advent. We need the light and the hope, and I crave the cyclical comfort of the seasons. However we cannot ignore the crisis this country is in. So many people unable to heat their homes and feed their families. Elderly people frightened of their smart meters and avoiding boiling the kettle or making toast.

And yet the light and hope remains. I will quote Professor Lucy Easthope’s book yet again: “As long as there were disasters, there would also be people heading out to help” (Easthope, 2022, p.50).

I am overwhelmed every day with the love and care that communities show to one another. My own local community is serving the people who have been left behind.

If you follow me on socials, or have read previous posts on here, you will know that I frequently have ephiphanies in the least likely of places. Moments of connection where I experience the grace of God.

Some of these have been deeply personal and have changed the course of my life. I have been confronted in ways that have astounded me.

A lot of these encounters take place in Birkenhead, my little Northern town. Whilst there is criticism of lived experience, there is no substitute for knowing a place in your bones. For knowing the hell that lockdown would facilitate for those already living in poverty, with addiction and abuse for instance. My lived experience will always outweigh any of my academic credentials and it guides me every single day.

I have always loved people and known that hospitality to strangers is sacred. In serving them, we are serving and encountering Him.

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed a street-drinking couple counting out their change to ensure some teenage girls outside McDonalds could afford their food.

Today I visited Mr B, my dear friend who was 93 years old today. Mr B and his late wife took me to church as a child and it’s thanks to them that I am a Christian. Mr B gave me a fizzy drink a much-needed pep talk.

Due to impromptu plans tomorrow, I had to run some errands this evening. In the shop queue a young man looked quite unwell. He was hunched over and I asked if he was ok. He was trying to pay for an empty can of red bull, explaining to the cashier and I that he had diatetes and had to run into the shop and drink sugar quickly. He insisted on paying and said he would never steal. Outside I saw the gentleman with his bike and his belongings hung form the handle bars. A man with nothing but wanting to do the ‘right’ thing.

The generoristy and hospitality of the poor is why I am proud to be working class. For those who go first, will be last. And for those who have in this life, have had their lot.

Compare these examples to the sickening nature of Matt Hancock parading around the jungle, and the NCA investigation of a Tory peer Michelle Mone.

Disaster capitalism has allowed the rich to profiteer from a pandemic.

Advent has sprung up on me this year as life has been busy and so full. Compared to the anxiety of last year and the fear of further lockdowns.

Last year I wrote the followign blog: “If you’ve got a neighbour, pass the light on” is a lesson for us all as we sit in the darkness and wait. I found myself giving in to the stillness and waiting of Advent this year”.

This year amongst the busy nature of the season we must serve others who are suffering. We are now seeing the disasterous consequences of lockdown policies. 3 local businesses closed in one day this week, workers unemployed weeks before Christmas and families losing their livelihoods. People unable to access medical and dental care. The people dying from living in mouldy damp living conditions.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew, 5:5).

Thinking of all those who enter this season with fears.

Gemma x