Christmas may be celebrated world-wide, but in Swaziland it feels much different than it does in North America and Europe: The promise of snow is replaced with hot and humid days. The ideas of Santa Clause and Christmas trees and reindeer are largely unfamiliar. The pageantry and liturgy and traditions seem to be after thoughts if they are present at all. The holiday buzz is muted.
Even though many Swazis like to play Christmas carols this time of year, one cannot help but notice how foreign many of the themes are in a land of high poverty and oppressive heat: No one has ever seen a snow man or knows what sleigh-bells are. The giving of gifts is a luxury beyond the capacity of many. None of us can go “dashing through the snow” and there isn’t even the vision of what it would be like to dream of a White Christmas.
But despite all these things, people in Swaziland have the ability to grasp the true theme of Christmas in a way that very few can. Christmas, above all else, is about the incarnation. It is about Emmanuel – God with us. It is about God coming in the flesh to live among his people. Christmas reminds us that God does not come flaunting power and prestige, but rather comes in the most humble of circumstances to the lowliest of people. The omnipotence of God is revealed in the powerlessness and innocence of an infant.
The Swazis may not understand snow, or St. Nick, or presents stacked under a Christmas tree, but they can appreciate the incarnation in a very profound way. The idea of God in the Flesh walking among his people is incredibly profound, but it gains even more significance when one focuses on the people Jesus chose to walk. He came to be with those on the fringes, those who were broken, those who were utterly without power and those who had nothing to give. Emmanuel – God with us – all of us, regardless of our circumstance.
The concept of the incarnation is not just a one-time event that occurred a couple thousand years ago. Instead, the incarnation is about an ongoing promise and a revitalized way of viewing the world. It is about radical love that is lived out among the downtrodden and forgotten.
Hlobsile, a Cabrini nurse, practices incarnational ministry
as she provides training and treatment in the community.
The incarnation not only provides the reason for what we do at Cabrini Ministries, but it also provides the model by which we operate. Cabrini’s work is incarnational by its very nature. We work among the sick and the dying, provide love to those who have been forgotten, and offer our services alongside those whom we serve. Because Jesus demonstrated the need to go to the people, we try to do the same.
This Christmas season, we find ourselves renewed daily through service. Our clients and partners remind us that wholeness is found among brokenness, contentment is found in the midst of suffering and true power is found in weakness.
We would like to offer you, our friends, family and supporters, the opportunity to join us in the incarnational ministry of Cabrini Ministry. As God has blessed you, we ask that you consider blessing those around you. Jesus came to be with the “least of these” and all seek to live out the promise of presence in the days to come.
Merry Christmas to all, from the Cabrini Family