Advent Reflection: America’s Racial Awakening Means Santa Isn’t Real

patriotic santa

 

When did you find out that Santa isn’t real? For many, an older sibling burst the bubble of our childhood fantasy and rocked our world. Not only did we refuse to believe our parents lied to us, we were furious at our brothers for lying too.

Isn’t that what happened in America in 2017?

Colin Kaepernick, for example, is like a truth-telling older brother, urging us to confront realities of injustice, but so many refuse to believe him. In spite of Charlottesville, the rise in hate crimes, and data that prove the existence of racial disparities in education, employment, and policing, we prefer to believe our enduring fantasies…

that racism and inequality ended with slavery (1865),

or that racism and inequality ended with the Civil Rights Act (1964),

or that racism and inequality ended when Obama was elected (2008).

All of these thoughts – as sincere as they may be – are lies about America, manufactured by elves who sanitized our history books. Even our parents – white or black –  may have led us to believe that Uncle Sam is like Santa who delivers freedom while we sleep.

The truth is, “liberty and  justice for all” requires effort from us. What we’ve seen occur in 2017 is our call to wake up and grow up. We have to enter the conversation and play an active role in peacemaking.

This is not as hard as it seems. Just this week at the nonprofit where I work, a woman called the office to ask how her small group at church could be a blessing to our low-income community at Christmastime. Within days, gifts began arriving for our toy drive: a bike, balls, clothes, games. These gifts will be wonderful for children and parents who struggle to put food on the table. But the added gift to our team is the knowledge that we have Christians nearby who are willing to admit that Santa isn’t real. Their gesture affirms the work we do all year, advocating for the poor and empowering them with tools that make the American dream possible.

Charlottesville is a tiny microcosm of cities all across America where disparities exist due to generations of racial injustice. It does none of us any good to deny these disparities exist. We can’t pretend that justice for the poor will fall from heaven like a fat man down a chimney. No. Justice occurs because we are willing to work toward it at some personal cost.

Christian people are best equipped to lead the way in peacemaking because we are called to follow Christ’s example. He was the supreme model to us of care for the marginalized.  That’s why one of the greatest gifts we can offer our children and grandchildren is a similar example of concern for their neighbors.

Let’s forsake the fantasy that racism and injustice are not real problems. Our willingness to give poor children gifts proves that we know the truth.

For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder. These will be his royal titles: “Wonderful,” “Counselor,” “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” “The Prince of Peace.” His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule with perfect fairness and justice from the throne of his father David. He will bring true justice and peace to all the nations of the world. This is going to happen because the Lord of heaven’s armies has dedicated himself to do it!

Isaiah 9.6-7

 

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