As Christmas approaches, I want to share a compelling essay by Rev. Jim Rigby, a minister who serves St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. I’ve long said that the stories we inherit in scripture come to life in, through, and around us. Jim’s words touch me deeply, and I hope they do you, as well.With you on the journey,
THIS YEAR’S CHRISTMAS PLAY
The Christmas story is mythic. [In other words, we could say its meaning extends beyond the historical to the existential.] There is no ONE interpretation of the Christmas story, but, in general, the birth narrative is a teaching symbol about what it means to be human in the cosmos.
Because myths are parables about human nature, we should not be surprised to find present-day people playing out the roles of the Christmas story without even realizing it.
In this year’s Christmas pageant, the role of Herod will be played by every political leader who bashes immigrants, hounds women having difficult pregnancies, or sends terror into parents with transgender children seeking medical care in an effort to consolidate their own power base.
This year, as every year, the role of the Christ child is being played by children born on the margins of human concern. Lost in the struggle between powerful religious and political forces, these tender souls are born shivering in the dark—invisible to the world. Every one of them is of infinite value, worth more than all the treasures of the world.
The shepherds working out in the field will be played by rail workers without sick leave and construction workers in dangerous jobs. Once again this year, it is the humble marginalized, not the honored insiders, who will hear the angel song.
The role of Mary will be played by all those radical lovers of humankind who keep the flame of hope for universal justice burning. Like Mary, they sing of a day when those who dominate others will be brought down from their thrones, and the oppressed will be lifted up in a revolution of loving justice. (Luke 1:51-53)
The hotel owner will be played by those willing to stop counting money long enough to help someone who needs it.
The role of Joseph will be played by all those who don’t need to personally benefit in order to help others.
The 3 Wise Ones will be played by those willing to leave old certainties to follow wherever today’s truth might lead. They are willing to leave old systems of domination to seek a new age of kindness.
The role of the angels, as always, will be played by those who can hover above religious sects, national boundaries, and hierarchies of vested wealth and power to sing a song of peace on earth and goodwill to ALL.