Johnny Mathis and Tear Gas
It’s a picturesque winter’s day here in Central Indiana, fluffy white snowflakes fall from the grey, brooding sky and I worked all weekend to deck the proverbial halls so that my home is filled with twinkle lights and candle glow.
This morning as I drove to work Bing Crosby’s Christmas in Kilarney crooned on my xm radio and then Johnny Mathis’ Silver Bells floated through the airwaves and I was transported back to a time of bliss. When I was a child, my mother would play the velvety sounds of Mathis’ Christmas album on our stereo, the buffet sized furniture in our family room. My sister and I would dance around in our nightgowns and decorate the tree while we sipped on egg nogg in tiny cermaic santa mugs my mother had lovingly made. I was blessed and full to tears and so grateful I had my channel set to Holiday tunes rather than the news station where I am typically parked until I remembered the awful state of our world. But even as I smiled at the memories, my phone pinged with Cyber shopping updates and twitter notifications about babies being tear gassed at the border.
I felt instantly guilty, shameful that I sat in my SUV driving through my suburban city in the Rust Belt while children screamed in horror at the result of the actions of my own government. I simultaneously patted myself on the back for taking a break from the 24 hour news cycle of hate and greed and violence to celebrate the goodness of this season and was embarrassed that I’d taken this respite while children cry out in fear.
I know I am not the only Jesus follower conflicted with the heart sickness of our reality and the longing for wonder. I can not be the only activist, mommy, scholar who is wrung out from the fight, knowing full well when this posts other Christ followers will attack my views and there will be an endless back and forth over who this Jesus really is.
But then, this is the way it has always been, this tale is as old as time and longer still, factions fighting each other over who God is and how God has come to us. For my part, I am running hard after the Jesus of the manger, the one conceived of an unmarried woman and born in a stable. I am a follower of the Jesus who was reared as a refugee and challenged the empire; I worship the one who was a friend to sinners and dined with prostitutes.
So today as Johnny Mathis sings and twitter zings, I am confounded and exhausted and in need of the revelation of Christ in this broken and battered world. While the snow falls I allow myself to be warmed by sweet memories but I click out a call from my small space in the story of our own making. Let’s agree we won’t harm children. Just that. Let us demand of our government and those across the world to do no harm to children and to invest in their lives, their dreams, their safety and education. Let's do what we can to help shape the future through love and not war. Let's burn down the cages that imprison our hope for a better world; lets feed and clothe hungry children in our city and around the globe. Could we lock arms around the notion that refugee children should be loved, not gassed. Could we resolve to welcome them, connect them to social services, find them shelter as they seek asylum, you know, just as someone did for our Lord as he fled Herod’s reach (Matthew 2).
9/15/2022 07:53:14 pm
Johnny Mathis is my all-time favorite singer. It was my mother's fandom since she was a teenager and her love for his velvet voice, that was passed on to me and my sisters. There is no Christmas album that I have listen to more than "Merry Christmas Johnny Mathis". Thank you for sharing!
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