Advocacy, Meditation, Sabbath Community, Spirituality

What the Christmas Nativity Story is Really About

(Featured image: Black Nativity, c. 2000, Xavier University)

What the Christmas Nativity Story is Really About

From New Dawning Light Advent Devotional, at Hope Rising, Day Twenty

Luke’s Gospel account of Jesus’s birth is not a bedtime story that calms boogeyman fears. The Advent narrative is a nightmare.

A poor, young, unwed minority couple head to a town to be documented in the era of a malicious king. The girl — a teen — is very pregnant. The boy, perhaps the same age, is not the baby’s father. She begins to labor en route. The motels are booked, and she’s forced to deliver in an animal stall with no medical treatment.

When the baby arrives, they learn they must flee. They become undocumented refugees seeking safety in a new land, because if they don’t, their son will be taken from them in the worst way.

Luke’s ancient narrative of Christ’s birth is a horror story. And yet, it feels so 2018. Advent is not about picturesque Christmas scenes of cozy upper-class families sipping hot cocoa by the fire. It’s a story about poverty, marginalization, and violence — and what it means for God to radically arrive as an infant with cards stacked against him from day one.

But here’s the happy ending: that homeless baby born in the manger to poor refugee parents? He’s Emmanuel. God with us. This is God who turns the world upside down. The last become first; the poor are rich, and love abounds. This God shows up in the most surprisingly humble way to remind us that we are not forgotten — but deeply loved.

That’s the real Advent story.

(Featured image: Black Nativity, c. 2000, Xavier University)

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