Growing up a fundamentalist conservative my favorite two holidays were Christmas and Easter. Christmas was the beginning of the supernatural story of God becoming a human being and Easter was the story of the God-Man rising up from the dead and teleporting up into heaven.
The more books I read and the more engaged I became with the academic side of Christianity and Theology, I became what my fundamentalist friends call everyone who disagrees with them: A Liberal!
The holidays completely changed. The supernatural baby I came to adore in High School was now a poor immigrant baby with no magical powers. The Easter story was about the “spirit of resurrection” and not a supernatural zombie Jesus.
I came to find meaning n the story of Christmas through the stories of the oppressed. My new-found “liberalism” took me into the poor parts of my neighborhood and also had me working alongside people of other faiths.
Both groups had strong beliefs in supernatural powers that made my skin crawl. After all, I became less interested in the supernatural and more into the natural being super.
My best friend in seminary was a black preacher who never let me forget how the Spirit moves in a black church, compared to our theologically astute liberal houses of worship. He also reminded me that it wasn’t the poor who were interested in the same theological questions and liberal ramblings I would often bring. Rather, they wanted liberation, freedom from oppression, and the freedom to create the world they dream, rather than the dream forced on them by their middle class liberal theologically educated friends.
In the 1970’s this form of theology started to show up in books after bubbling up in the streets; they called it: Liberation Theology. Carrying on the tradition of the Social Gospel, these Latin American Christians re-radicalized the story of Jesus from a religious game of theological exploration to a revolution of love and liberation from dominations (i.e., social, economic, class, sexual, etc.).
Liberation Theology invites us to value the diversity of beliefs within our communities and to unite in the liberation of oppressed peoples.
Our goal no longer is one of convincing everyone to the right (or Left), but is found in joining others in liberative acts of love and justice.
This Christmas may we worry less about the doctrine of a magical baby and more about where the story of Christmas locates divinity: among the poor and oppressed.