“Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease.”
Earlier this week I traveled to Sofia Bulgaria, which is only a 3.5 hour drive from where we live in Skopje. There a friend of mine and I were able to visit a refugee camp, refugees were mainly from Syria. Before our visit I was not aware so many refugees had made it that far into Europe. The Bulgarian government says that they have registered over 20,000 refugees throughout the country, but experts put that number closer to 2 to 3 times as many. The refugees at this particular camp are living in an abandoned orphanage. The Bulgarian government is trying to provide as much aid as they can but it falls far short of the desperate need that these families are facing every day. They do not have enough food. They lack even the simplest medications. They only have access to hot meals twice a week. There are not adequate bathroom facilities. They are living in some of the most desperate conditions that anyone could live in, and they have been there months, with no end in sight, they have nowhere else to go. The situation is desperate. They are captives to the oppression of war.
During this time of advent we celebrate the coming of Christ. What affect does the coming of Christ have on humanity? Jesus came to preach love and peace. During this time we remember the words that Jesus spoke. Christ came to set captives free. The chains of oppression have been broken. As followers of Christ it is our responsibility to preach love and peace and freedom from oppression.
What good news do we have to offer? The world is full of oppression. Freedom is hard to find at times. I think too often we forget the needs of people, some of them so prevalent that we cannot help but to notice them, and if we fail to see them we are simply blind to the world around us. If we neglect the needs of the people then we are becoming the oppressor. We have a responsibility to speak for those who have been rendered voiceless. We must protect those who cannot protect themselves. We must bring the gospel of peace with love. This is the “gospel” that we should be proclaiming. Oppression is evil and Christ came to break the bonds of oppression on people. I continue to be convicted of my call to break those chains, because those who are stuck bondage are my brothers and sisters. We share in our humanity. As a follower of Christ it is my responsibility to bring them good news. For the poor and oppressed that good news comes in the form of food, medicine, clothing, warm shelter; it is the gospel of peace.
During this Christmas time may we not forget that Jesus came to break the bonds of oppression in love. May we remember to give love and preach the gospel of peace. As we encounter the poor, oppressed, and the brokenhearted may we fulfill our responsibility to love people and to preach to them peace. Peace here and now.