What does life look like post graduation from graduate school? I am about to find out!

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Night Before Christmas

Christmas is almost here. In just a few short hours, we will enter into the period of Christmas where the Christ child has been born and delivered. Let's think about that for a minute. A little baby, born in a manger among oxen and sheep, will become Jesus Christ, a leader of all humanity. Everything about that story is simply humbling and miraculous. We often forget or intentionally ignore these aspects of the story. Jesus could have come as a mighty monarch or a powerful dictator but instead, Jesus came as a tiny, defenseless baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger among livestock. From such humble origins born of an unwed pregnant teenager (which back then was even more of a scandal than it is now) and yet, look at what that baby became.
I think it is best that we remember those humble origins more often. Too often, Christianity acts so triumphalist and powerful that we seem to have forgotten that our very faith came about from a baby born in a stable, not a mighty and powerful ruler. It is best that we realize this and keep it at the forefront during this time of year. There is no "war on Christmas". Christianity was never intended to be the dominant religion anyway. Our origins started with a baby in a manger among livestock. It really doesn't get any more humble than that.
On the other hand, what about that baby's mother? What did she have to say about the whole situation? I've been thinking a lot lately about Mary and her story and how we almost never hear from her. She has almost no lines and seems to only be a bit player in her own story. I think Mary really needs to be returned to the forefront of the Christmas story. She is, after all, the mother of Jesus. Without her, there would have never been a Jesus. When we marginalize Mary, we implicitly marginalize her role in the Christmas story, that of nurturer and comforter. We essentially say that what she did is unimportant and therefore doesn't need to be told. We make her invisible, much like women throughout history have been made invisible. When we silence Mary, we silence women. When we silence women, we marginalize or make irrelevant their roles in the life cycle. We tell them that they are not important and that their contributions are not worth mentioning. This does a disservice to all as there are many valuable and important contributions that women make and have made in the history of our world. How much richer our lives would be if we would simply acknowledge those contributions and allow all women to have a voice and to make contributions. Sadly, we don't. Even in the year 2012, we still have much work to be done on that front. In many families, women are still taught to be submissive and any money the family has goes toward the men of the family and their upbringing while the women are left to fend for themselves. In many parts of the world, women have no voice, no vote and no power and to speak up is to risk death. Even in our own United States, women still struggle to be seen as equals in many different aspects of society. It seems like things really haven't changed all that much since Mary's time. We are still marginalizing and silencing women and their roles. We are still saying that their parts aren't important. We don't give them a voice and we don't give them a role. What does that say about us? Perhaps it is time for us to finally allow Mary to have a major part in the Christmas story? Instead of letting Joseph and the angels have all the good lines, maybe it is time for us to allow Mary to speak up. What must have been going through her head when she found out that she was going to birth Jesus? What were her thoughts when she stared down at her newborn baby? What was she thinking when the angels shone down upon them? Wonder, excitement, nervousness? All of the above? Isn't it time we find out? Isn't it time we allow Mary to have a part? She has a lot to say if only we are willing to listen!

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