A soldier patrols the streets of a shattered city in Ukraine. His mind is not preoccupied with turkey and mistletoe, gifts and carols, or candles and lights on the tree. Every one of his senses is alert. Every nerve is on end. “Will it be a roadside bomb, a missile, or a sniper?” Celebration is the farthest thing from his mind. Survival is his all-consuming thought. SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS!
A hungry child shivers in the cold, waiting for a soup kitchen to serve Christmas dinner, the annual holiday reprieve from life as usual. For a moment, warmth and food will intoxicate his senses. Tomorrow, it’s back to the trashcans and cardboard shelters, back to hunger and homelessness. When will they ever stop wandering from town to town? When will his mom find a good job, so they can move beyond scratching out a meager existence? SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS!
A young couple with their 5-year old son are huddled together under a tattered blanket in a crowded alley of migrants in El Paso, Texas. They left Venezuela in June and it is now December 25TH. Their treacherous journey took them through seven countries and thousands of miles where they witnessed robberies, corpses, mutilations and rape. They survived the turbulent waters of the Rio Grande River, but a young mother and her baby next to them were swallowed up by the swift current. They are waiting to go to a detention center, but there is no room in the inn for them. He is a skilled mechanic and hopes to find work. They live in constant fear of being deported to Mexico City or Tijuana by some cruel Herod. SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS!
Now how do we pay for everything? We charged and borrowed to buy Christmas, only to receive a termination notice two days before the holiday? Where do we find a new job? How do we meet all our financial obligations? SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS!
Do cancer and caroling go hand in hand when you lie in bed for the week of Christmas? How does a broken body sing, “’Tis the season to be jolly?” When fear and sickness sweep over you in waves, where do you find the voice to sing, “Fa-la-la-la-la?” SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS!
Fires, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tidal waves, floods, droughts, blizzards, accidents; the timing of tragedy is never kind. Death catches humanity unaware. Injuries and inconveniences change schedules, alter lives. SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS!
A Roman decree sends families scurrying back to their ancestral cities to register. Enrollment means “taxes,” and as we all know, taxation without representation is galling. Taxation without representation is oppression and tyranny. The families who go back to their ancestral homes to register so they can pay taxes are an oppressed people, who live with cruel taskmasters and know the bitterness of Roman rule. Can anybody not say, “Egypt” all over again? SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS!
Thanks to Darrik Acre for inspiring some of these examples.
Maybe this past week you said or you thought, “SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS.” If you did, then whether you realized it or not, you were sitting in the same boat with the soldier in Ukraine, the hungry child at the soup kitchen, the migrant family in El Paso, the over-borrowed credit card user, the cancer patient, the earthquake victims in San Francisco, the hurricane victims in Florida and those stuck in the terrible blizzards. Most of all, did you realize that you were sitting in the same boat with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in Bethlehem who were going through what YOU WERE GOING THROUGH!
It is only when we realize who we are sitting next to in the same boat…..that we come to the Epiphany realization that we are ALL in this together. When this finally comes to pass, there truly will be Peace on Earth and Good Will to ALL Women and Men!!
When did YOU think or say, “SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS” over the past weekend?
ARE YOU PART OF THE INN CROWD OR ARE YOU ONE OF THE STABLE FEW?