Christmas 2020: Week 1, Day 4: Speech

“I explained it when I danced it.”

Margot Fonteyn, ballerina

Speech is possibly one of the greatest gifts we have as human beings. 

But not all speech is words.

In May 2019, I heard Sybella Wilkes speak at the Royal Opera House in London. She was the senior communications officer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

She said that the world is going numb to the global refugee crisis; people want to turn away and not look. Perhaps that’s unsurprising – there isn’t a solution and the problem is getting worse. 

Over the evening, a panel of speakers talked about the importance of music and dance. The arts give voice to experiences that do not have words; they express something which cannot be communicated through conventional means. What’s more, refugees need spaces to express themselves in the arts — just as much as they need water, food and shelter.

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Christmas 2020: Week 1, Day 3: Endurance

It’s funny how stories help us bear the unbearable.

A couple of years ago I watched a Danish crime-thriller series called ‘Department Q.’ Based on a series of books, it was about two police officers who investigate cold cases. Fair warning: these stories are very grim and violent!

The last episode, A Conspiracy of Faith, was about a serial killer and extortionist tried to destroy devout believers’ faith. 

What struck me was how, despite his cruelty, despite his cunning, despite his having the upper hand, the police officers and their colleagues didn’t give up. Good people died, sustained serious injuries, or lost a loved one, but they all kept going. They didn’t hold back saying, “If we keep going, this might cost us even more.” 

I found it healing to see the police team’s determination, even in their weakness, to keep going until the killer was caught and stopped. 

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Christmas 2020: Week 1, Day 2: Testimony

A couple of years ago, I heard a short talk about how Christians share personal stories about their experience of God. We often call this ‘testimony.’ 

The speaker highlighted how during the 80s in the UK, testimony in churches became sensational. You would hear polished packages of very dramatic stories. But along the way, these stories lost their authenticity and their usefulness; they became repetitive and weren’t easy to relate to. Partly because of this, the word ‘testimony’ can have tainted connotations within the church. 

And yet, if a Christian was asked to write a letter to a younger person, to convey something about their faith, then the letter would probably be a form of testimony. They would be sharing their lived experience and showing a part of why they believe what they believe. 

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