COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Looking for Christmas in the wrong place--another look at Luke 2:1-14

22 December 2006

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Looking for Christmas in the wrong place--another look
at Luke 2:1-14

by Irene Erin Kindy

I've been thinking, "It doesn't seem like Christmas," and then I wondered
what I thought was missing. I'm thinking of cozy times with friends and
family, familiar traditions, and all things that make Christmas nice. But
the first Christmas probably wasn't that way.

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world
should be taxed*"

Last week the government called the first paramilitaries to be judged
according to the Justice and Peace law. Victims of their crimes have the
right to offer testimony about violations they have suffered. They must
travel long distances and carefully weigh the possible impact of their
testimony. Many paramilitaries are reorganizing with new names or
slightly different structures, but they are still using fear and
intimidation to dominate civilians. Victims still lack a sense of security.

"He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was
expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver
her child."

I read in the newspaper two days ago of a woman in labor whom friends
carried over miles of rough trails. Her birth had complications and she
and the child died. I was sick with a fever last week and was trying to
imagine what it would be like to be carried out of the community I visited
in the San Lucas Mountains. I rode a mule for two hours over mountainous,
muddy trails. Then I road in a truck for three hours to get there.
Carrying a woman in labor on foot would be agonizing for both the woman and
those carrying her.

"They wrapped him in diapers and laid him to rest in a manger, because
there wasn't space for them in the main living room of the house."

People here are left out of the house as well:

-small farmers trying to make a living on legitimate crops rather than
growing coca.

-small gold miners working with their neighbors.

-families living in rural areas where essential government services for
health and education don't quite reach.

The main living room is occupied by those who can pay:

- owners of monoculture African palm plantations.
- Northern investors who can count on the aid of the Colombian military
to help clear the way for big mining interests.

-paramilitaries receiving payment from the state for disarming while their
illegal armed organizations reappear.

"In the region there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took turns
at night caring for their flocks* Suddenly, a multitude of heavenly beings
appeared with the angel and praised God with these words: Glory to God in
the highest heaven and peace on earth to men: this is the hour of his

These rural shepherds were accustomed to being forgotten. Big things
didn't happen to them. But this was their hour of grace.

 Where are the heavenly beings today? Where are they breaking in
unexpected? Will we be there to see them when they appear?