The Christmas morning service had already begun as Sara and I slipped
into our usual pew at the back of St Ignominious. The priest, Father
Lawrence Kalaliki, had just walked to the lectern
The First Lesson
this morning is taken from the Gospel according to St Adam Smith,
patron saint of the bourgeoisie, Chapter 2, Verses 18-25.
Here begins the First Lesson: And so Joseph travelled from Nazareth to
his hometown of Chilenje, with his new wife Mary, who was heavy with
child. And shortly after they arrived in Chilenje, Mary felt the first
pains of the baby’s arrival. So Joseph took her to the clinic of
the Movement for Maternity Deliveries. They knocked upon the clinic
door, but there was no response. Finally the door was flung open,
revealing a clinic which looked more like a filthy stable, with rats
and cockroaches running everywhere. Blocking their entry to the stable
stood an angry cow.
Moooh threatened the cow.
Have you pre-paid for your admission? Do you have thirty gluders
for your maternity fee? The stench of the cow’s breath was
so foul that Mary fell backwards down the steps of the stable, onto
the stony ground outside.
Moooh! mocked the cow.
for you! and slammed the door shut. And so the baby Jesus was born
right there on the stone pavement, where all might witness this great
and holy event. And three wise men from the west, who happened to be
passing by, wound down the window of their Mercedes to take a
look. They explained that it was against their principles to give
money to the poor, so instead they gave Mary precious advice on the
economy of natural childbirth as a Third World alternative.
And they assured Joseph that the plight of the mother and child would
be recorded in their latest Poverty Assessment Survey.
kind sir, said Joseph, kneeling down and clapping, in appreciation
of this great kindness.
And what name shall we give to our baby
son? Shall we call him Poverty Assessment?
one of the wise men was heard to say, as the car sped off. Now the
priest raised his eyes from the Holy Scripture, and looked straight at
And what do we learn from this morning’s
lesson? What is the true meaning of this event?
We in the Church of Self-Reliance believe this event was the
turning point for the whole world. We now realise that these three
wise men came from the World Bank, the IMF and Paris Club, and that
their message is the most important part of the Holy Scripture. And
the message is simple. Glorify God by your accumulation of wealth, so
that you can be self-reliant, and look after yourself. For without
wealth, you are nothing, and will be despised even by arrogant
cows. We see from this story that Mary and Joseph had not prepared
for the birth of Jesus by saving the money for admission to the
stable. And so they were cast out onto the hard road, and into the
dark of the night. The lesson is clear. You must work hard and save
money if you want to prosper in this world and gain the favour of God.
The three wise men knew they must not give money to Mary and Joseph,
for that would only encourage others to come to the clinic without the
proper fees. For the first of the Ten Commandments tells us that thou
shalt not allow sentiment to stand in the way of economy. We also
learn from the Holy Scripture how poor Jesus Christ never recovered
from this bad start in life. Due to his parent’s negligence, he
himself was doomed to live in poverty and to die young. This must be a
lesson to us all. This is why the Church of Self-Reliance advocates
cost sharing, so that the poor shall appreciate the services given to
them. For people’s needs can be measured only by their ability
Now all rise, to sing Hymn Number 181.
Once in old Chilenje City, Cast out from the clinic shed, There a
mother had her baby, On cold stone for their bed; Mary was that mother
mild, Jesus Christ her little child. Refused admission to the stable,
By most awkward cow of all, No payment, no admission, So his pillow
was the wall; With the lowly mean and poor, He shall live for
evermore. As we walked out of the church, a poor woman in rags was
sitting by the wall, nursing a small baby. As she reached out her hand
for assistance, Sara looked in her bag for a little
Don’t encourage her! I hissed.
She might be