The Christmas Story
Do you know what I discovered last week? Black women saved Alabama’s soul and, ultimately, America’s with the trouncing of Roy Moore—that racist, pervert, accused pedophile, and abomination to the name of Christianity who tried to railroad his way into the U.S. Senate. You’re welcome, America! Even though I don’t live in Alabama, I am a Black woman, an Evangelical (until they do something that makes me throw up in my mouth), and a person who is used to seeing miracles. I know it seems hard to believe, but not every Christian in America has sold his or her soul to the Devil Trump and his minions—just enough of them have done so to make the rest of us occasionally wonder if there really is a God. So there you have it: God showed up in Alabama through Black women, therefore, thus did hope re-surge in me for the times ahead. All is not lost, my Peeps.
As I meditated on that unexpected burst of hope that came out of the Doug Jones win in Alabama, I felt this explosion of happiness and joy in my soul which got me to thinking about Christmas. (Of course, I was decorating the Christmas tree at the time, sipping champagne, and singing “Jingle Bells” at the top of my lungs, so thinking about Christmas might not have been a huge stretch of the imagination.) Contrary to what Fox News, paranoid White Evangelicals, and Trump would have you believe, there is no war on Christmas (trust me). Nobody cares if you say Merry Christmas or Happy Everything, just so long as you say it with love and good intentions. We’ve been bombarded with Christmas this and that here, there, and everywhere since the day before Halloween. Nobody in America has a problem saying “Merry Christmas”—just a problem living it. Christmas has been “lost in translation” and left on the cutting room floor in our country for a very long time.
This week I started asking any and everybody what Christmas meant to them. Some said “family,” too many said “expensive,” others said “stress,” many said “fun,” a half dozen said “I’m Jewish, or Muslim, or atheist,” others said, “abandoned,” a few said “Santa with lots of toys on his sleigh” (granted, they were under ten years old), and several said a “colossal pain in the ass—I’ll be glad when it is over!” I could have sworn that at least one person said “bah, humbug,” but I’m not sure. My grandson said Christmas meant “going to see Star Wars” when he comes to visit in a few days and “finding the new Xbox One LEGO Marvel Super Heroes under the tree on Christmas morning—please Mema, pleeaaaaassse!” No one who I asked about the meaning of Christmas said what Christmas truly is: freedom from oppression, hope, joy, peace, love, comfort for the marginalized, and healing for the abused.
I was slightly mortified by all the responses (including my grandson’s), if the truth be known. I wondered: “How did Christmas get hi-jacked from the broken-hearted and the oppressed by the paranoid religious White people, inadequate Bible translations, and Wall Street. Every year I try to figure out a way to translate the goodness of God into our holiday celebrations so my grandson can understand the true meaning of Christmas. But every year something gets lost in translation in his young mind: “So what’s a virgin? Are you trying to tell me, Jesus had two daddies AND a mommy? What’s a frankincense and myrrh—is that like bubble bath and Chuck’s flea soap?”
In a world where nine-year-olds are committing suicide because of bullying, a child dies of hunger every seven seconds, and refugees and asylum-seekers have topped 65 million according to the UN, my grandson is going to need more from the Christmas story then gazing at a White baby Jesus in a manger once a year (Jesus was a Jew, so what’s up with the blond, blue-eyed savior?) and militantly saying “Merry Christmas” simply to prove a point. As a young Black man, he’s going to need lots of hope and courage to get through this life! So I decided to rewrite the Christmas story in a way he would understand and leave the frankincense and myrrh to the Bible literalists.
THE CHRISTMAS STORY AS TOLD BY MEMA TO BABY BOY
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a very mean king by the name of Caesar Augustus ruled over all the world—or as much as he could capture under Roman rule. Caesar Augustus thought that he was all that and a bag of chips—kind of like Donald Trump. In fact, CA thought he was God—much like Donald Trump. Actually, he was awful and very cruel. I’m told that he once said: “I could run over a bunch of Jews with my chariot in the middle of Jerusalem and my Roman supporters would not care. I truly am king of the world.” If you were a Roman citizen and rich, life was pretty awesome, but if you were a Jew, a non-Roman, or poor, life was the pits. People cried all of the time because they were not free to live their lives as they wished and they didn’t have enough money and food to take care of their families. Many people were slaves to the Romans. It had been this way for a very, very long time. So much so that it caught God’s attention.
GOD: Gabriel, my angel, what is going on in the Earth I’ve created? In all the years since I first breathed life into humans, I’ve never heard such a hue and cry.
GABE: Pardon me, my Lord, but I beg to differ. We had an issue with that bad Pharaoh a while back, remember? Had to raise up an outstanding guy named Moses, part the Red Sea, and escape with hundreds of people into the desert for about forty years. It seems as if this time, it’s a Roman, not an Egyptian causing all the mayhem.
GOD: Oh, yes! I remember. What is it with these humans? There is always some nutty leader trying to impersonate me but with the character of the Devil. You give them a little bit of talent, a few smarts, and it all goes to their heads. They start lording it over each other, abusing people, treating each other like pond scum. Oy vez mir! I’m telling you Gabe, humans are getting on my every last nerve. They better not make me come down there, or they will have Hell to pay.
GABE: Eureka, my Lord! Maybe that’s exactly what you should do. You made the blueprint of why humans were created, and not one group of them has ever done the right thing by each other since their inception. They think they know you, but they don’t have a clue as to your character. What if you went down to Earth and hung out with them for a few years—showed them how to treat each other and the Earth you gave them?
GOD: Hum… that’s not a bad idea. Except, I’m made up of all sorts of energy and matter. If I interact with them face-to-face, they’ll implode. It will be as if they flew to close to the sun. That would defeat my purpose.
GABE: Not if you cloaked a portion of yourself (your son) in the costume of a human. Since there are three parts of you (Father, Son, and the feminine Holy Spirit), surely you could spare one part of you for a while. I propose that you do a real sci-fi thing: slip into the Earth’s atmosphere as a fetus, get yourself born, hang out for as long as you can take it (maybe 33 years or so), show them how to live, and find some way to get ejected off the Earth and back into the heavens. In fact, I’m thinking of a pretty powerful way you can exit stage left that would really complete the circle of sacrificial love that you have for them. It would involve some nails and wood, and be rather painful in your human form. But you could handle it.
GOD: I do love them so. Can’t help myself. When they’re good, they’re very good, but when they are bad… eiy, yi, yi! Okay, find me a vessel through which to make my entrance.
GABE: Already on it. Her name’s Mary. Just got engaged to a real stand up dude by the name of Joseph. He’s mature enough to be your earthly father once he gets over the shock that his future wife is the temporary shuttle for the son of God.
GOD: Cool. We’ll need to alert a few of my peeps to let them know I’m in their midst since I’ll be a baby with no language skills. Get the ad department to draft an announcement. Send it out to the shepherds since they are usually the only ones hanging out at night under the stars. They’ll spread the word.
GABE: Got it. I think I’ll lead the angels in the proclamation myself, Sir. How’s this:
“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord… And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace…”
GOD: Awesome! Excellent Gabriel. The hope just radiates from that proclamation makes me tingle all over. Do you think the shepherds will believe it?
GABE: It’s worth a try. If you don’t go down soon they will devour each other and there will be no humans left in a millennium or two. They are not getting better—they’re getting worse.
GOD: This is so exciting! I have so much to show them about what it really means to be human. Do they even realize that I created them in my likeness? Do they understand that that likeness is the personification of love and joy? I want to tell them that murder, hatred, theft, and cruelty are not why they were created. They need to know that every soul has great worth—no matter who they are or where they were born. I’ve got to teach them how to love one other, because my law is love, and my gospel is peace. Come on Gabe, let’s pull together some genes, some DNA, and some chromosomes and get this baby entry pod cookin’! People of Earth, hope is on its way! From this day forward, all oppression shall cease!
ELEANOR’S SELAH (“AHA” MOMENT) ON THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
I am discovering that humans have always been in peril from other humans since the beginning of man. I am also discovering that my hope is not in man, in political parties, or even in myself. My hope is that the true character of God will triumph in the Earth as well as in my own heart. No evil lasts forever and no true love will ever die, and that is why Jesus came to Earth. God’s love and hope is what Christmas means to me.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANUKKAH, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND PEACE AND GOODWILL TO ALL!
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ABOUT HOPE
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”—Desmond Tutu
“The message of Jesus is summed up partly in the Sermon on the Mount, and partly when he begins his ministry and quotes the passage from Isaiah: ‘I have come to set free the prisoners and restore sight to the blind.’ And certainly, his mission is also to bring hope. It was to heal people, to befriend the outcast.”—Dan Wakefield
“For Jesus, there are no countries to be conquered, no ideologies to be imposed, no people to be dominated. There are only children, women and men to be loved.”—Henri Nouwen
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