Nativity Creator’s Reflections
on CUMC’s 2013 Nativity Display
There is no better time to reflect on gun violence than during advent, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jesus was born into a state of total vulnerability as an innocent, unarmed child during a time of great violence much like Trayvon Martin. The Bible tells us of a brutal massacre as Jesus was born. King Herod slaughtered children under two years old around Bethlehem trying in vain to kill Jesus. Mary and Joseph celebrated their newborn baby at the original Christmas, but there were plenty of other parents in agony because their children had just been killed. The holiday of today would have little in common with the tragedy that was suffered.
The rulers in Jesus’ world, just as in ours, provide that we must use violence to protect the innocent from violence – This myth of redemptive violence is the very thing Jesus came to help us un-learn through his commitment to nonviolence and his death on the cross.
Jesus life from birth as a homeless refugee to his violent execution was one of opposing violence, not with more violence, but with forgiveness, grace, and love. There is a reason that we speak of “peace on earth” so much at Christmas and call him “The prince of peace”.
The ideal that Christians identify with a victim of hate and a nonviolent, loving, forgiving victim is perhaps one of the most transformative and world changing assumptions of the Christian faith.
The lesson that Jesus taught his disciples is as relevant today as it was on the first Christmas. Hate will not rid the world of hate. He consistently taught that we could disarm violence without becoming violent, and that we can rid the world of evil without becoming evil. I think we can add that more guns or teachers with guns will never stop gun violence. So let us commit ourselves to Peace this Christmas in honor of Jesus, in honor of the innocents killed by King Herod and in honor of the innocents killed with guns today.
John Zachary (Member of Claremont United Methodist Church)