Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.[b] Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.
~ Isaiah 7:14 ‒ 16 (NKJV)
Aside from Easter, Lent, Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Holidays have always been my favourite time of year. As a child, I remember cherishing every Christmas Day morning, waking up to see presents sitting under the tree, and Christmas evening, reflecting on the birth of the Christ child and His nativity.
Every year, I also commemorate and celebrate my own birthday, with family beside me. But as the years go by, my birthday wishes have graciously evolved with me. Instead of asking Santa Claus for the latest toy, computer game, or DVD, I have increasingly taken the time to think about college (and my life after it), my finances and the future.
And… to be honest with you, the future is a very scary afterthought.
With my family putting the same expectations on me since I was that little boy sitting around our gargantuan TV in the family room, watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and of course, Phineas and Ferb’s Christmas Vacation (a nod to Peanuts as well)—every Christmas seems to feel more burdensome.
Just this year alone, the media continuously reminds the masses of the dystopia we are nearing closer and closer to—if we are not already living in it. Tireless arguments over gun violence, terrorist attacks, and the minimum wage dominate not only American but also international headlines. Republicans and Democrats alike, in lieu of next year’s Presidential elections, mutually seem to agree that our nation’s future is at stake.
But every Yuletide, I am humbly reminded of the story of a little boy, born into a lowly, impoverished family on the other side of the globe, during the reign of a despotic king in utter turmoil, acting as a protectorate to Rome. It is this very story, in fact, that has not only inspired generations of authors to recreate modern male protagonist figures in the image of this little Palestinian Jewish boy, but still warms the hearts and souls of billions today.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[e] Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
~ Isaiah 9:6 (ESV – UK)
Amidst all the violence, corruption and war of these times, we should all be continuously reminded that the true Spirit of Christmas was and still is about Christ, and the journey his parents have had to take in order to make he was delivered safely and soundly.
Very much like my own birth, not so ironically… 😉
But in order to fully understand the significance of this tale that has been overly idealised, domesticated, and exported in the form of centuries of imperialism and modern-day commercialism, we must be able to put the Holy Family back into their Middle Eastern heritage, appropriately, as they ought to deserve.
Two thousand years ago, Palestinians were the first followers of his message, and whether particularly religious or not, we take that lineage quite seriously. We are the protectors of his traditions, the original stewards of his good news.
In our ongoing struggles, we Palestinians see Jesus every day. He was told that he was not welcome in his native land. He fought against an absolute, ruthless, occupying power. He stood by his message, no matter the cost. He went through rebellion, rejection, abandonment, suffering, and, eventually, vindication. I have no doubt we are following his exact path. Jesus was a Palestinian back then, and he would have been one today too.
~ An excerpt from Jesus, the Radical Palestinian Activist
There are those who currently see a link between the Nativity story and the ongoing crisis with modern Middle Easterners who are escaping war, famine and drought. One thing is for certain: The Christ of history and steward of three of the world’s greatest faiths [Judaism, Christianity and Islam] was born in this same war-torn region of modern times, and I believe he would be just as appalled with the scale of destruction occurring in the Levant right now, as well as all of the political blaming and finger pointing, as he has clearly done over two millennia ago.
My heart sincerely goes out to all those who are not only directly affected by these situations, but because I too am appalled by the destruction and loss of life. My own grandparents (on both sides) fled Mainland China, en route to Taiwan, in the few years before Mao’s forces finally occupied Beijing in 1949. The relocation wasn’t easy at first, but with time and grace, they’ve learned to settle down and start their own families, knowing that their ancestral homeland would never be the same again.
My warmest wishes to this hurting world. God bless y’all, and here’s to an amazing 2016!
#PrayersfortheMiddleEast #Shalom #As-salamualaykum
You belong to a patient God. Not to a hurry up and fix yourself God, but a be still and let me heal you God. Not a why do you keep doing this God, but a God who gives you the keys to break the cycle. God is patient, and He is pleased to take His time with you.