A more authentic Christmas….

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly possible.....

Sleep in a dumpster....

Looking and longing for a more “authentic” Christmas? Do you want to return to its real meaning, identify with Jesus more than you see done in the surrounding culture?

I have a few suggestions to facilitate your desire. Granted, this is not easy as we do not live in a territory occupied by a foreign power whose representative despises locals and is especially violent toward infant boys after getting wind that one will be born who will be greater than he is.

In your journey to be “in touch” with the birth of the Christ-child, start by walking to say, Chicago, Cleveland, or Cincinnati. Take a donkey (or ride a camel) to St Louis. Wherever you choose to go, plan to arrive by Christmas Eve. Have at least one very pregnant teen-ager (a non-relative) of about 13 or 14 in your party.

The ride, the discomfort, the lack of certainty about accommodations and the welfare of mother and baby along the way will enhance your appreciation of the season and sharpen your perceptions of how ridiculously off-target are our current traditions with sterile stables, plastic donkeys, unbounded shopping and a world hung with mistletoe.

Take no money. Be prepared to be turned away by family and motel managers alike. You are accompanied by a pregnant, delusional teen who, apart from being no one’s wife, claims “innocence” regarding the pregnancy. Her claim that an angel said she’d conceive a child by God more than alienates your party from usual societal pleasantries, and you end up with a makeshift accommodation between two dumpsters at the rear of a very cheap rent-by-the-hour motel.

On the journey, chat here and there about the political leader who slaughters all the boys in the Midwest. He has spurts of uncontrolled power and an inordinate degree of submission from the troops who carry out his wishes. Remind yourself that for weeks, months and years to come, parents will mourn endlessly over the loss of their infant boys.

You get to successfully hide your infant from the brutal eye of the murderous leader, but this is little consolation, for although you are very grateful that the baby will not be murdered as an infant, you can hardly dispel the knowledge that he will, nonetheless, be ruthlessly murdered as an adult.

As you choose a parking lot behind a motel in South Bend or Toledo, reflect on the oddness of the child’s conception and the rumor you hear that he will “save” people from their sins. This thought both encourages and disturbs you. You literally fall to the ground and worship a God who has given such a privilege while remaining aware of how those who seek no salvation usually treat self-proclaimed saviors.

The cattle are lowing, yes, but have you ever spent the night with an ox? Have you noticed how much distance you keep from the animals at the state fair? There’s good reason for that. Somehow the lowly manger has become a sanitized, cozy corner. Live in a dumpster, add a few stray farm animals and let a few wild goats, dogs and rats enter regularly from stage left and stage right, and you are more likely to create something of the environment of the first Christmas.

Let there be no gifts, no tree, no glitter. Christmas earmarks the beginning of the second phase of a remarkably courageous journey of love, adventure and commitment on behalf of a determined God. The gift is in the risk. The value is in the danger. The generosity is within the sheer lunacy that God constantly loves a recalcitrant humanity.

The UPS truck arriving at your door with a gift from Aunt Joan in Ohio does nothing to reflect the spirit of generosity that was evident with the coming of the Christ-child unless Aunt Joan has given everything she ever owned or valued, and, at the cost of her life, packed it off to you for Christmas.

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