Christmas - The Nativity of the Lord



As convinced that I am that we need to face the world, to be in the world and learn from and be challenged by it, sometimes the world is heavier and darker than I feel equipped to wrestle with.  As Central Americans continue to arrive at the border, just a half-hour south of USD, the very worst of humanity has continued to be reflected in the complicated and messy unfolding of our very public and private reactions.  Within this particular context, I am tempted to read this scripture as an escape offered by God.  That the way of peace might be otherworldly, physically removed from the onslaught of systemic evil and personal sin.  But my own understanding of who God is continues to be woven by accompanying those whose faith and understanding of God is very much in this world.  

Tonight, Jesus, the Trinitarian God in all his wet diapers and colicky glory, shows up ready to throw his lot in with us.  God, who says “I am with you.”  We have domesticated the nativity, believing that bales of straw and donkeys are like a Motel 6 - decent, as long as you don’t look under the mattress.  But the manger is as sharp as the bales of hay and as smelly as a cow farm, and Jesus’s arrival is a promise that in the messiness of humanity, the times we are confronted with racism and fear and greed and when we recognize its insidious nature and our own complicity, God is standing right there with those most marginalized, offering us all mercy, forgiveness, compassion and peace. 

For me, the border is the closest tangible realization of the tension of Christmas, the human and the divine, the light and the darkness, promises and fear.  Each year there is a posada at the border fence, a reenactment of Mary and Joseph looking for a room to stay in.  Posadas usually end in celebration, a door swinging open, an extending of hospitality that is both symbolic and literal.  Along the border, the location is simultaneously apropos and ironic.  The borderlands posada is a public lament at the physical limits of both countries, a dramatization of exclusion and rejection. And yet it is also a sign of hope, a reminder of the tender compassion of God. The shadow of the US/Mexico border is a darkness that today’s readings promise to dispel, and today’s readings are a reminder to join in the work of bringing protection and solace to it.


Julia Campagna, ‘09
Associate University Minister