Let’s work together for a better world in 2021 – and a Christmas when we can truly sing of peace on Earth and good will to all people
As many Americans pause to celebrate the Christmas holiday this weekend, it is tempting to wish for a momentary pause in our public life of ceaseless conflict. Between a president who has refused to accept the reality of his defeat and an entire subculture that has made denying science a culture war in the midst of a global pandemic, an incredible amount of energy has been invested in division this year. While it may feel good to romanticize the spirit of the season and wish everyone a “Merry Christmas”, it would be more faithful to both the original Christmas story and our present circumstances to wish one another a “Mourning Christmas”.
Two thousand years ago, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, inequality was rampant. Client state rulers like King Herod in Judea used their power to accumulate wealth from poor subjects. Jesus, the son of God, was born to a poor family who could not find a room to rent in Bethlehem. His birth was not celebrated by the wealthy or the politically powerful, but by migrant farm workers and foreign religious minorities. The movement of hope and new life that Jesus came to inaugurate was attacked by a paranoid and narcissistic ruler who was willing to kill innocent children in a desperate attempt to cling to power. The first Christmas was not merry and bright, but a mournful sight.