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No room amongst their own
CEYLON 101225-1
December 25, 2010

A Christmas message by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, the Bishop of Colombo

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] Jesus was born in a cattle shed. A census required by the then political regime created this situation. When Mary was ready to give birth there was no room for them amongst their own; even her vulnerability made little difference.

The celebration of Christmas today compels us to address the anxieties of those who have no room amongst their own; whose vulnerability seems to make little difference.

The urban poor, living in congested communities, fear relocation to unfriendly and distant places that will dislocate them from their livelihood and their children’s schooling. There is no longer room for them in the big city.

The Negombo lagoon fisher community fear an adverse impact of sea plane tourism on their traditional livelihood. There is little room for them in their own habitat.

The IDPs, still waiting for normalcy; our rural subsistence farmers, still left to their own devices; the plantation sector, still confined to the margins of life, are some of the other neglected communities amongst us. There is no room for their dignity and legitimate aspirations in our development plans and national conscience.

Development that neglects the fears and needs of our own “little people” in preference to collaboration with financial giants amounts to yet another form of neo-colonialism. These investors benefit at the expense of the powerless amongst us, simply because the cries of the powerless do not seem to matter.

The celebration of Christmas consequently calls for inclusive development. Dialogue for economic development with prospective investors must also address dialogue for human dignity with our own vulnerable communities. To exclude these anxious and hard-working Sri Lankans is to make a serious political and economic mistake. I urge those elected to resolve the problems of the people; to listen to their cries and to serve them.

Jesus the liberator was born in vulnerable circumstances. The vulnerable amongst us offer us all a liberating perspective on inclusive development. The message and miracle of Christmas is that God is full of life-giving surprises, if only we are able to think and act outside the prejudice and arrogance of power and class.

May God forgive our foolish ways; may Christ’s birth illuminate and transform us all.

With Peace and Blessings to all this Christmas,

The Rt. Rev Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
24th December 2010