Christmas honors the birth of a baby; a child who would mature into a prophet and teacher whose message would live for millennia inspiring billions.
In America today, however, Jesus would be born into systemic poverty. With most wealth controlled by a privileged few, he would depend on subsidized school lunches and food stamps. His brown skin would make him a target of police and condemn him to a life of discrimination. He would embark on his ministry bearing the burden of crushing student-loan debt. His Jewish faith would expose him to the hatred of white nationalists and radical Christian fundamentalists.
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I believe that Jesus would preach against the false ideologies of corporate capitalism, military proliferation and American exceptionalism. He would decry our gun culture and our failure to enact even the most basic controls on the purchase and dissemination of weapons of mass killing. He would call on churches to speak out in support of women, immigrants, people of color and everyone facing slander from the highest offices of government, whatever their ethnicity, religion, ability, sexual orientation or gender identity.
But Wall Street and Washington lobbyists would drown his simple message of compassion and love with consumerist propaganda. His elected officials would reject requests for public meetings to discuss his appeals. Our president would tweet insults calling him a socialist and “Sad!” His support of immigrants would place him on terrorist watch lists. He would be persecuted for protesting immoral wars, sexism, homophobia and a government constantly harming all of God’s creations.
The greatest tragedy of all? Many churches invoking his name would do little to help.
As we celebrate Christmas, let us uphold our journey along the spiritual path blazed by Jesus and so many other prophets. Let us love our neighbors as ourselves. And let us reject all political and social movements and actions that do not affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Rev Jeff Liebmann
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia