Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ever heard of Putaruru?

We have failed to heed God’s message – God’s fault or ours?

The world is in financial and economic crises – sounds sterile. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are losing their jobs, they and in many cases, their families will suffer real hardship.

Some atheists may ask why God let the evil bankers trick us into spending money we did not have on what we did not need just so that they could get rich.

I may respond and ask why we did not listen to the many voices, Christian and others, which warned that it would not end well? … and perhaps I would admit the voices of churches were not raised very loudly (or did the media stifle them?) to call us to think about increasing number being plunged into abject poverty as we plugged in our flat screen TVs. … yea blame the messenger for not making us listen to God’s word.

Perhaps we all have to concede that the most strident voices calling us to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ were those of the fundamentalists – the loony fringe (?) – oh but had we all heeded their cry! Had we been more like Nineveh – certainly we received the same message – and less like Sodom, well who knows …

It is easy to say that Christ preached against the avarice practised by the merchant bankers and others who sowed the seeds of this crisis; it is also easy to say that if we had all followed Christ’s teachings we not be in this sorry state.

Correct me if I am wrong – if we had not been distracted by the new and shiny would we not have been better off living a good Christian or Hindu lifestyle, respecting those around us, even the starving in Darfur? But all of us (me included) did not do that, so …… and the starving still starve and the number of the poor increases.

Do I seem heartless? No, I weep for those who really do and will suffer, I feel nothing but disdain for those who rode the pig’s back and now have to make do on a few million less next year, yet how clear is the sound of their weeping, and so loud that governments around the world have come to THEIR aid – I guess those that really need the aid (like wiping 3rd world debt) have to again rely on the trickle down effect – like Lazarus at the gate of the rich man’s house. Certainly the situation is the fruit of avaricious. Certainly lax regulation opened the gate – blah blah … etc I could rant on, but you know it anyway.

Out of the gloom comes a story of real Christian spirit. In the small New Zealand town of Putaruru the sawmill is to close and around 200 jobs are to be lost. Bad news in a small town with a population around 3500. However, in the neighbouring town of Tokoroa (pop 4000) the workers at the mill there have agreed to restructure their shifts and reduce their hours and take home pay to create about enough new jobs for those laid off in nearby (25kms away) Putaruru.

Now those taking the pay cut are not the management of the corporate parent on $mega packages with bonuses that motivate the cutting of jobs at the first sign of missing their double digit targets. Those taking the 12.5% cut in work hours are giving up their pay at overtime rates, so more than 12.5% of take home, are those who can least afford it, earning generally at or below the average wage.

Is this proof of God, of course not, but it is the message of Christ, “love your neighbour as yourself” at work. Are all those who are making the sacrifice Christians – I doubt it, even with Google Earth showing 7 churches in the Tokoroa & 6 in Putaruru (1 per 600 people). Christ’s teaching is God’s message to all – and is particularly relevant now. Those who will now have jobs for the new year have those jobs because good has triumphed over evil, love over selfishness – these are the fruits of God’s spirit at work within the spirits of the good people of Tokoroa, Putaruru and around the world.

If you pray (or for atheists is it, wish or hope – or does life just happen for you?) for anything next year, perhaps you will join me in wanting more openness in the world to the spirit that moved the workers in Tokaroa.

Now I know most of my visitors are atheists (interesting how visitor numbers soar (& lots more repeat visitors - feel free to comment folks) when I get active on the DC site) so I mean no disrespect to your beliefs but see wishing you and those dear to you a blessed Christmas as a small act of love ...

… so I wish all who have visited here, together with those close to them and my enemies too, a wonderful and blessed Christmas. May the peace of Christ and the blessings of Holy Spirit be with you, in your homes and on your travels; in your anxieties and your joys.

While I look forward to talking with you again next year I will reflect over Christmas about maintaining this blog, or resting it for a while. On the one hand it is hard to find time, on the other I have learned much from you, thank you for time, I am sure it is more valuable than mine and you have given it freely to me, a stranger, as a gift – there I knew God’s spirit was at work in you too!

Hamba kahle