A reflection on the Christmas narrative through the lens of a mother who waits with her children for their dream of liberation.
My Spanish is mangled but somehow we were able to communicate beyond words as our mother-hearts made a connection. She had traveled for over a month, mostly by foot, guiding her children through danger and uncertainty toward what would be her best attempt at escaping violence and pleading for help. Here she was, resting within the walls of a makeshift shelter in a Tijuana church building, awaiting her turn to seek asylum in the United States. She was tired, resilient, and kind.
Our encounter was brief. I managed to find out where she was originally from, kicked a ball around with her young son, and our daughters drew pictures together. Time paused in the goodness of the moment but her situation didn’t change. Neither did mine. She waited for assistance as we went home to our unmade beds and complained of the chill in the air.
This Christmas, I’m pondering the grittier, truer side of the nativity narrative through the lens of a refugee mother who waits with her children for their dream of liberation. I’m also contemplating the character of a God who rescues even the most marginalized among us.
God is like a mother who both waits with us and acts on behalf of our freedom.
As I come across nativity figurines and sentimental holiday slogans, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps the birth of Jesus took place in a setting more like the shelter in Tijuana than the manicured barns we sometimes imagine. An authentic portrayal of the Christmas story would include a child born into a family who fled for their lives under the oppressive power of Herod, King of the empire, who perpetuated societal structures of ethnic, economic and positional oppression. And on the night of Jesus’ birth, perhaps his parents rested in a makeshift shelter like the one at the back of the church in Tijuana.
Jesus’ divine essence within his human story represents a new kingdom, not in the reign of the privileged but in the sovereignty of the refugee king. This was God’s way of love. This was God’s redemption plan.
Come, Lord Jesus, be born in us this Christmas season. Guide us through the deserts, protect us from evil and lead us out of captivity into the fullness of your liberating love.