As we enter into 2011 we have celebrated the hope, love, joy and peace of the Advent Season. I ask myself, “How can I take that hope, love, joy and peace into this new year?” As I have pondered this question, I have reflected on a distinct memory from our last year in South Africa.
One sunny day in May on a side street of our neighborhood in East London, South Africa, I was out on my daily walk. I was carrying the heavy burden of leaving a country where my children were born, where we had spent eight years of our lives and ministry and now called “home.” I was wondering how many of the projects we were involved would carry on, what life would be like for the rest of 2010 and, overall, feeling very overwhelmed and hopeless. Consumed with my own thoughts on this Monday morning, I passed a street where the homeless and hopeless joined me. This was a weekly routine as it was every Monday. This is the day for trash pick-up in our neighborhood and you would always see many people rummage through the trash to get out the last scraps of food, to see what could be recycled, and reading the magazines or newspapers that had been discarded. But this Monday I had to stop and watch. I was torn from my own wondering and self-consuming thoughts to see a group of men gathered in the streets. Except these men were not rummaging as usual through the trash. They were kicking around a make shift soccer ball made out of rubbish and tape. They were kicking, laughing and making goals. They were gearing up for their own World Cup! I had to stop to watch, and I found myself laughing out loud with them. I even wanted to join in but thought better of it and kept on walking after I shouted out to them “Ayoba!” In that moment was hope. There was love amongst them. There was joy on those men’s faces and in that moment of soccer on the street there was peace, even in the midst of poverty.
So as I look to 2011, I want to take that same hope, love, joy and peace into the year ahead, for myself and for the world. Despite the circumstances that life brings to us, hope, love, joy and peace are in us and amongst us, even in places that surprise us. Will you join me, not only to remember these things but to make them happen 2011?
Revs. Jon and Dawn Barnes
Jonathan and Dawn Barnes will serve with the Mozambique Synod of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, based in Maputo, Mozambique. Dawn will serve as an HIV and AIDS Coordinator and Jon will serve as project and development officer.