The War on Christmas / by Sarah Schwartz

I fell asleep last night with thoughts of Christmas, and the recently instated refugee ban.

Luckily, I awoke to a fresh piece from Rachel Held Evans, who powerfully expressed the great irony behind the desire to "put Christ back in Christmas" while opposing him with our actions.

"To claim that the lighting of a national Christmas tree each year makes this country 'a Christian nation,' while its powerful systematically oppress the poor, turn away refugees, incite violence against religious and ethnic minorities, molest and harass women and girls and call them liars when they dare to speak up, is, in the words of the prophet Amos, sickening to God."

Since the tree lighting ceremony, this administration has congratulated itself on bringing "Merry Christmas" back to the White House, as well as proclaimed that "Christmas is back, and bigger than ever."

There are many things about our current political state that have caused me to lose sleep this year, but what causes me to double over in sorrow is when Jesus' name is invoked to animate the very powers he came to destroy.

So, let's be clear about a few things:

Christmas is the celebration of a middle eastern child, born to an unwed teen mother, who soon became a refugee fleeing state sanctioned violence, only to return to a home suffering the brutal effects of military occupation, and eventually became an itinerant preacher who urged his followers to go, sell all you have, give your money to the poor, and follow me.

He preached a gospel that blessed the poor, the meek, the pure in heart, the merciful, the peace makers, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

He condemned those who honor God with their lips but revile him in their hearts; those who are careful to keep the letter of the law without attending to mercy, faith, and justice.

He warned against love of money, or desire for public recognition; instead he dined with the destitute, the reviled, and the mistreated.

He proclaimed a kingdom where the last are first, the poor are blessed, and the person who gives everything away gains it all in the end.

He died a violent death at the hands of a corrupt justice system, where he did not have the full rights of a citizen.

He echoed the Jewish prophets, who said, "Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow..."

and

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;  your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"

He reflected the words of his mother, who proclaimed, "He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty."

He foreshadowed the words of his beloved disciple, who would write, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."

In the words of the great prophet Beyonce Knowles Carter, don't get it twisted.

The war on Christmas is not Happy Holidays—it's banning refugees in need of sanctuary.

The war on Christmas is not Starbucks cups—it's indifference (or disdain) towards the plight of black and brown bodies in the face of an administration that thinks there are "many sides" in discussions of Nazis.

The war on Christmas is not the recognition of other winter celebrations—it's throwing away young girls bodies in the hopes of political gain.

Make no mistake; Jesus wrapped himself in flesh in the most political away possible, making God's solidarity with those on the margins crystal clear.

And if we want to "make Christmas great again"? So must we.

Looking to put Christ back in Christmas? Consider donating or volunteering for some of the organizations below.

National Immigration Law Center

U.S. Commitee for Refugees and Immigrants

Campaign Zero

International Justice Mission