‘In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered’   Luke 2:1 

This is how Luke introduces the birth story of Jesus.  As a result of this decree Mary and Joseph move from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the birth place of the shepherd boy King, David.  Thus, the Messiah is born in the proper place, in a borrowed room in the midst of forced migration.  In so doing the Roman Empire inadvertently brings about the fulfilment of a prophesy which will ultimately bring about its own subversion.  Empire declares in such decrees its power to control and exploit at will. We counter them in these advent reflections with the contra-decrees of God’s upside down order, that send Jesus up against Empire, and his followers with him bringing Good News of Jesus and the change he brings.

Let us seek a moment

of quiet amongst many voices.

Voices which tell us

Of our world:

Profit is everything

Politics is pointless

Shopping is redemption.

Mexicans are criminals

Migrants are scum

Muslims are extremists

Black lives don’t matter

Women are toys

Queers are abnormal

The Earth is to be exploited

Resistance is futile

There is no alternative

Let us make room

for the broken reed to speak,

the rock to cry out,

the unspoken text to find its counter voice:

The end has come upon my people Israel;

Hear this, you who trample on the needy and destroy

the poor of the land, saying,

“When will the new moon

be over so that we may sell grain,

and the Sabbath

so that we may offer wheat for sale,

make the ephah smaller, enlarge the shekel,

and deceive with false balances,

in order to buy the needy for silver

and the helpless for sandals,

and sell garbage as grain?  Amos 8: 3 – 6

Our economy is marked by runaway inequality. Over half of the world’s wealth lies in the hands of 1% of the world population.  In fact, in 2015 Credit Suisse demonstrated that the 62 richest people owned more than 50% of the world’s population combined. The pursuit of profit for this 1%, or these 62, drives most of our economies and the global corporations central to them.  The consequences of these global inequalities fall heaviest on women, children and people with disabilities.  Empire now is fundamentally a global economic system which seeks its own reward and does not provide for the life of the communities and nations at its command.  Regulation is resisted, laws which protect the earth or the employee are dismantled and nations North and South fall prey to its unholy demands.  Everything and everyone is commodified.  The International Labour Organisation estimates at least 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour and trafficking worldwide.  CWM, with other partners in the churches and social movements, calls on this to end and be replaced with new economic systems and values.  And we must confess that the Church has so often been complicit in exploiting peoples’ poverty and silent at its injustice.

We light the first, second and third candle for

Economic justice

For those whose poverty makes them vulnerable

And for those whose wealth makes them indifferent

The first, second and third Advent candles are lit

[A song may be sung here or a moment of quiet kept]

Come Lord

Decree of Love

Grow louder in light

And summon us to your side

That we too may raise up the pressure for change

And the value of all you have created

Council for World Mission

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