Prophet Of Hope For The Sick And Tired

This Christmas we will remember again the mystery of the incarnation; that, as Clarence Jordan used to say, "God pitched his tent and moved in with us." We will marvel that the creator and Lord of the universe entered human history as a child born in a barn, not among kings or priests, but among the poor and oppressed. And again we will affirm our faith that this humble event was more significant than all the coronations, coups, or inaugurations before or since.

The good news of the Christmas story is that God is among us, that God loves the world and is bringing it to salvation. And God is at work especially among the poor and marginalized, among those who count for little in the world's eyes.

In this issue of Sojourners, we celebrate Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the great women of the black freedom struggle. Her life is a testimony to the literal truth of the Christmas story. She was born into a family of black sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta, which in 1917 was a near approximation of the circumstances of Jesus' birth.

She rose up quite unexpectedly to challenge and confound the rulers of our age. Though some of the projects to which she most gave herself met with apparent failure, her faith never faltered. She endured great hardship and persecution without bitterness. We present her story as a simple reminder that God's light of love and justice shines in the midst of the most terrible darkness.

For too many the memory of the civil rights movement has grown dim, and Fannie Lou Hamer is at most a name half-remembered. It would be tragic for all Americans if the legacy of that movement were lost, but especially so for Christians who are involved in present campaigns for social change. For the civil rights struggle is probably U.S. history's finest example of a Christian-based political movement.

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