The (whole) Christmas Story

Waxy nativity scenes don’t really represent for me the God-with-us component of Christmas. In a world with so much darkness, evil, hatred, and despair, a nativity scene doesn’t rally a brave and bold hope in me. I instead get distracted thinking the figurines all look too white and pale for a scene in Palestine.

But I also understand that Christmas is a sort of paradox. It’s the coexistence of these opposite themes that bring light even to the darkest corners. Elizabeth and Mary pregnant together – old and barren juxtaposed with young and unmarried. A helpless baby born under the thumb of a militant and oppressive government.

During our time in Bolivia we went caroling in the brothels on Christmas Eve. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to articulate the experience well. But it was that same paradox of light in the darkness; songs about joy and hope amidst so much destruction, faces expressing gratitude and others with smirking contempt.

This morning we sang carols at church during our little Santa’s workshop. Cute kids, cracking voices, and the smell of wooden pews. It’s strange to believe God is present in such vastly different settings. As Lydia sang with great intention and expression, completely off-key, I couldn’t help smile. God sees us in the brothels and and he sees us with our kids. The God of light is there in the darkness with us.

At Christmas-time we remember the baby Jesus, but the nativity is not about warm fuzzies. It’s love amidst fear, hope in despair, and light forcing back the dark – smirking faces and off-key voices, it’s all a part of the Christmas story.

From: Becky Thada, former WMFB staff member

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