About the Author: Dion Oxford

Dion Oxford is a Jesus follower first and foremost. He is the Mission Strategist for The Salvation Army’s 5 homeless shelters in Toronto. Dion, along with his wife Erinn and daughter Cate, live in Toronto and are committed to journeying alongside people in the margins of society for more than 25 years. Dion also lives with Multiple Sclerosis and uses a walker or mobility scooter to get around. He is an advocate on behalf of people in the margins of society and is an accomplished public speaker on the topic of housing, homelessness and disabilities. He likes to read, rant, write, fly kites, watch TV, play and listen to music, and hang out with his friends. Dion blogs at www.dionoxford.com

By |2018-12-08T15:27:28+00:00December 7th, 2018|Advent Reader, Blog|Comments Off on First Friday of Advent

Scripture reading for today:

Malachi 3:13-18, Philippians 1:18b-26, Luke 1:68-79

A Light in the Margins

Advent marks the beginning of our Christian year; not the end. The word ‘advent’ comes from the Latin meaning ‘to come,’ or ‘coming.’ It is a time set aside for us to long for, to wait, and to prepare for the arrival of the saviour of the world once and for all.

Our culture has completely destroyed this season of waiting. Right now during advent we party, we decorate, we eat and drink, and we stress ourselves out of our minds as to what we will buy for our friends and family for Christmas. The only good thing out of it all, I suppose, is that we end up truly longing for Christmas Day so that we can stop the exhaustion of the season leading up to it. Once the presents are finally opened we can at least then put our feet up and rest.

What would it look like for Christians to truly go against the cultural grain and live out Advent in a different way? How can we truly be in a season of waiting, a season of preparation, during Advent?

I live with multiple sclerosis. I am currently in a power wheelchair. I need help every single day to get up out of my hospital bed, cleaned and dressed every morning. Then I need help going back to bed at night.

When I scoot around my neighbourhood on my chair I can recognize how inaccessible so many places still are. The world has been created to fit able-bodied people. Even churches are often different difficult to get in to.

Also, I have spent my entire career working alongside folks who have no home. I have worked in downtown Toronto inside the Salvation Army shelter world in different capacities for close to 30 years now; that is until this past year when my health got so bad I finally had to leave the work that I love.

So I guess I’m saying I know a thing or two about being in the margins. My friends in shelters and on the streets live inside the margins. Those of us in wheelchairs also live inside the margins.

Even though it often sucks to be here, and even though I often shake my fist at God wondering why I and so many others have to deal with so much suffering, I feel as though this is where God dwells.

I have learned lessons of dependence, gratitude, forgiveness, grace, and love through both my personal situation, as well as my experiences of being with so many people who have so little as far as material possessions.

God dwells here. I feel the Creator all around me.
Jesus did not come to take away the pain of the world.
He came to share in it.
Through my own pain and the pain of so many around me, I feel the presence of Christ right beside me.

So through Advent I long, I wait, I prepare for the coming of Christ once and for all. When that happens everything will be made right.

There will be no more pain.
There will be no more sickness.
There will be no more homelessness.
No one will be in the margins anymore.

Like Saint Paul says in one of today’s lectionary readings;
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me.” ‭‭(Philippians‬ ‭1:21-22‬a NIV‬‬)

So as long as I live, I hope can be a light in the margins as best I can. I also look forward to what God will continue to teach me through being in these margins.

As long as I live, I hope can be a light in the margins as best I can Click To Tweet

During Advent, throughout the beginning of this new year, let’s all try and remember once again what this life is all about.

Thank you for reading the New Leaf Advent Reader, a collection of reflections from writers across Canada. If you are enjoying the reader, sign up to receive the readings in your inbox each day here: SIGN UP And please share this reflection with your friends and family who might also enjoy it.

photo credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia