Christmas in the Intersections

Ahnnalise Stevens-Jennings

I am a person who lives in intersections. My life is spent standing in the place where class, race, gender, sexuality, ability, and mental health all form a crossroads. Someone should really put a round-a-bout here, but that is a different blog post. I’m seminary educated, but I’m a lay person. I am from a small rural community, but I am Black and I have a master’s degree. I’m at an age where some of my friends are still college aged single party girls, and others are rounding the bend to marriage number two, and baby number three. I am a progressive and a Christian; so my Christian friends don’t like my politics and my political friends don’t like my Christianity.

One day a few weeks ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw two posts back to back. The first post was a rant from a conservative Christian friend about how we should all be protesting the “war on Christmas” by saying “Merry Christmas” to everyone who says “Happy Holidays” because “political correctness is taking away our rights to express our faith” and so forth. Right underneath that, I kid you not, was a rant from my atheist friend that said something along the lines of “here are the ways you can stop your city government from allowing religious displays on public property during the winter holiday season. All those religious people are bigoted and dumb, so do your best to stop them from spreading their brainwashing to the rest of us.”

Intersections. They can be dangerous. There is a whole lot of folklore out there about strange and evil creatures lurking in them. I think I found a few on Facebook that day. They are called exclusion and hatefulness.

Christmas is strange when you live in the intersections of life. I know some people that assume I must celebrate Kwanzaa because I am Black. Other people in my life have decided that I am not nearly black enough to celebrate it. Assumptions all around about my identity. None of those assumptions are taking into account my special place in the intersections.

This season can bring out the best and the worst in people on many sides. Stress is high. Money is tight. But, we are supposed to be cheerful and generous. Through all of this, there is the Church, which is itself divided. On the one hand, we speak out against the consumerism which runs wild during this season and how it emotionally and literally bankrupts so many of us. On the other hand, we as the Church are in the middle of teaching about the extravagant, costly, and ostentatious gift of God to the whole of creation. Even we are at a crossroads here.

So from a person who is used to living here in this middle space between worlds, I have a suggestion:

Maybe have a little more grace with each other. I can’t speak for other faith traditions, but for Christians, this season is about Christmas, and Christmas is about extravagant and ostentatious grace. We have been showered with grace, and maybe we should be gifting grace with all the other things that we give away during Christmas. Grace doesn’t mean that we do not seek justice. Grace means that as we work towards justice we remember that its end goal is the reconciliation of all of creation back to God.

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