An Honest Look at Christmas

from The Messenger, 12/14/2018

There is a surprising person among the refugees at our southern border. In fact, there are three surprising people—all from the same family.

Their names are Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is important to remember this Advent and Christmas season that Jesus and his parents were refugees who sought asylum in Egypt.

To refresh your memory, after a destitute birth in a stable, the Holy Family learned that they were being hunted by the government. A gang of soldiers was heading their way and they needed to flee their homeland because it was no longer safe. They headed for the Egyptian border.

They did not know what they would find there. They did not know what kind of welcome they would or wouldn’t receive. They were completely at the mercy of the people they met; Egyptians who spoke a different language and practiced a different religion. They did not know when, if ever, they would be able to return to their homeland.

I believe God makes that same journey in Christ today. Only it is not the
Egyptian border God heads to, but the southern border of the United States. There, instead of being met with help and welcome, God is met with tear gas and barbed wire. There, the baby Jesus is separated from Mary and Joseph and each of them is put in separate detention facilities; unable to communicate with each other; not knowing when they will be re-united.

I realize that such an image ruins Christmas. But it is an image we need to look at. Like some grotesque painting in a gallery that causes us to wonder what the artist could possibly have been thinking, we need to look at it. It doesn’t negate the other, beautiful paintings in the gallery; just as the refugee image of Christ doesn’t negate the beauty and joy of Christ’s birth at Christmas.

But it is there. And we need to at least acknowledge it and our part in it.
You see, just as we have a role in the joy of Christmas, we have a role in the hardship of Christmas. That, to me, is what makes it such a powerful time of year. In it, we find the comfort of God’s companionship with us in the human experience while at the same time, not unlike the crucifixion, we find God’s call to repent of our hurtful ways.

The colorful lights of Advent and Christmas bring us such “tidings of comfort and joy” because they contrast with the uncertain darkness that surrounds them. They cause us to make an unconscious choice between the two.

So let’s light more lights this Christmas; literally and figuratively.
The honesty of Christmas can make us better people.

See you in church,

–Rev. Dominic