What child is this who, laid to rest, on Maryâ€™s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?
I can answer the songâ€™s question, since I have personally clasped the child in my hand.
Maryâ€™s child has a shock of brown hair and, with eyes closed, is clearly sleeping. I like his snug blue coat with the collar protecting his chest. I delight in the hint of tummy above the clean white sheet warming his legs and feet. Heâ€™s fair-skinned, sports a pug nose andâ€”like infants often doâ€”his tiny, tiny fists are closed tight while he slumbers.
See . . . I know what child this is.
Itâ€™s baby Jesus in ceramic form, hand-painted by my mother, given to my wife and me on our first married (and merry) Christmas together. Thus, Iâ€™m confident of how old Jesus is: he turned thirty-four this year. Thus, Iâ€™m confident of what he woreâ€”and always wearsâ€”to keep cozy in the hay: a cute blue jacket. Thus, though Iâ€™m less confident the â€œangels greet with anthems sweet,â€ I can prove Mom did make Baby Jesus. Her initialsâ€”a slightly uneven FPâ€”were marked on the hollow backside of the baby. Continue reading →
Well . . . a Merry Christmas to my Facebook â€œneighborhood.â€ Iâ€™m enough of a still-learning student of my faith to view this day as part of a holy and humbling story. Our Christmas mythology* proclaims a birth that represented a counter-cultural and subversive tale written to challenge the hypocrisy and excess of an empire . . .
A long-time friend, once a college roommate, someone I now disagree with about politics and religion and completely agree with regarding the good San Francisco Giants vs. the evil Los Angeles Dodgers, asked about my use of mythology*. How does it apply to the Christmas story? Within the limits of Facebook personal messaging, I tried to give him a brief explanation.
I wasnâ€™t very persuasive.
I suspect my buddy wasnâ€™t much open to being persuaded.
To use inadequate labels, my friend is conservative compared to me. His politics veer toward the â€œrightâ€ while mine embrace the â€œleft.â€ We are Christians, but as a United Methodist claiming progressive theological views, my faith influences donâ€™t share much commonality with his Mormon beliefs.
For him, I think, the Christmas story is fact. Real. If Jesusâ€™ birth didnâ€™t happen exactly the way it was described in the Gospels, it was close enough. After all, even sacred scripture, inspired by God, may not include every single thing that happened. And so, for me to call the birth of Jesus a myth is to miss the mark. Wasnâ€™t Christmas, as told by Matthew and Luke, an historical event in a particular place at a particular time for a particular purpose? I suspect my former roommate would confidently add that Jesusâ€™ birth was predicted in Hebrew scriptures, a long-anticipated piece of Godâ€™s plan.
Please write a thousand word essay on one of the following:
I have a dream.
If youâ€™re a fan of televisionâ€™s Greyâ€™s Anatomy, maybe youâ€™d pick the first and delve into pop culture and the longevity of a medical melodrama. Or perhaps your essay would highlight Martin Luther King Jr.â€™s transformational 1963 speech in the shadow of the Washington Monument. Then again, you might respond personally, sharing about the ideal career you have now or aspire to claim in the future. Depending on your view of President Obama or Trump, you might instead write about the politically-charged Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.
Dreams die young. What a dreamboat. Dream a little dream of me. Dream Team.
Philosopher Joseph Campbell declared, â€œMyths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.â€ Back in the 1960s, Bobby Kennedy made this George Bernard Shaw comment famous: â€œYou see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’â€