A conversation at our basketball tournament last weekend:
So y’all we’re gonna take a minute here before lunch and talk about Christmas. I know y’all are excited for the holidays…
“Yeah, no school! But we don’t really celebrate Christmas…”
You look around during the Christmas season and it’s all about Santa Claus and presents and Christmas trees and such… and that’s fine, but I want to remind y’all of what Christmas is really about. Do y’all know?
“Jesus died?” “Church?” “Jesus’ birthday?”
Yep! Jesus’ birthday! So there was a teenage girl named Mary and she was engaged to be married to her boyfriend Joseph. You know among Mary and Joseph’s people the custom was for families to arrange marriages for their children at a young age. Like if you were six years old and your mom and dad had arranged for you to be married to the little girl down the street when y’all grew up.
“What?! That’s not right!”
So anyway, Mary was a good girl and religious and everybody liked her. And Joseph was a straight up guy and everybody respected him. Everybody thought they were a cute couple and would make a great family. But one day… people noticed a swelling in Mary’s belly. They said “Oooh Mary, what chu been doing?” And sure enough, Mary was pregnant! Everybody was talking about it. Mary and Joseph were good, religious people, how could they let this happen?
“What’s the big deal? It happens a lot.”
Well, it turns out it’s not Joseph’s baby! Joseph said, “Nu ‘uh, that baby ain’t none a mine! So Mary was in real bad shape. She was a young girl pregnant and not married. Like some of our mommas…
“She was a teen mom?” “My mom had me when she was fifteen.”
Yes. Everybody thought Mary had been bad… but what had happened was one night an angel came to visit her. He was a bright shining light and the Angel said, ‘Sup Mary! Girl you are so lucky! God is with you baby! He has chosen you out of all the women in the world to do a great miracle. You are going to have a baby and it’s going to be God’s Son! He’s going to be large and in charge forever. You’re going to be the GOAT of women!
“So wait… God was Jesus’ dad?”
Yeah, it was hard for Mary to understand too. She was like, “Uh… I don’t understand how this could happen. I’m a good girl and I ain’t been with nobody!” And the angel said “God’s going to do a miracle and even though you haven’t had sex with anybody you will have a baby. The baby will be the Son of God.” And Mary said, ‘It sounds scary but I trust you. If you say that’s how it’s gonna be, then ok.”
So, Mary was walking around pregnant and everyone was talking about her. People were shaking their heads and saying, “Mm-mm-mm… what a shame.” Joseph’s heart was broken ‘cause he really loved her. He decided he didn’t want to front and embarrass her publicly so he was going to quietly break the engagement. But that night he had a dream…
“Man, I would’ve left her.” “Ain’t no girl gonna cheat on me!”
In his dream, the angel came to Joseph and told him what was up. The angel said the child came from God and that Mary had been faithful to Joseph. God wanted Joseph to be the child’s earthly daddy and raise him. His name was going to be Immanuel, which means “God with us”. He will save people from their sins and bring them back to God. Joseph was excited. He even picked out the baby’s nickname, “Man-Man”.
“Just like my cousin!’
Joseph went to Mary the next day and hugged her and said, Guess what? I had a dream last night and God told me everything. We’re gonna be married and raise this baby together! And Mary was so happy, she cried.
So, they got married and everything was cool. But then the Emperor (like the president of the whole world) decided to count everybody so he could get more taxes from the people, and everybody had to go to their family’s home town. If it was me, I’d go back to Texas. Where’s y’all’s families from?
“I’m from Chicago!” “We’re from Louisiana.” “I was born in Minneapolis.”
Joseph had to go to a little town called Bethlehem, way out in the desert and a long ways from Nazareth. And there weren’t any cars, trains, planes or buses back then. People traveled in groups called caravans, on a donkey if they were lucky. They had to walk long distances in the hot sun, and be careful to have enough water. Remember, Mary was close to her time of giving birth, so it would be a long and uncomfortable trip for her.
So, they made the trip, I don’t know how long it took, and when they got there
Bethlehem was packed with people from out of town! For a little town a lot of people were from there. Joseph tried and tried but he couldn’t find a place to stay. Every hotel or inn was full with no space. He was like, “Please help us my wife is pregnant and about to have a child.” But people were like, “No room homie!”
So, you know what they did? They camped out in the street like those people you see down on Bloomington and 26th St.
“Mary and Joseph were homeless?!”
Yeah, for a minute. I know some of y’all have been at the shelter at one time or another. Everybody needs help sometime.
Anyway, one of the maids from a hotel saw them and told them to go around back to the alley and she’d put them in the stable with the animals. It was kind of smelly, but they could stay dry and warm. Joseph was like “Bet!”
So that night in the stable, in the middle of the night, Jesus was born. There was no doctor, no hospital, no nurse, no nothin’.
“But how did the baby come?”
Well, you gotta ask your momma about that…
At that time, out in the fields, the shepherds were watching their sheep. Shepherds were gangsta back in the day. It was a lonely job out there with the sheep but shepherds were tough. They had to protect the sheep from wolves, lions, and coyotes. So it was lonely, and it was quiet; but then… “HALLELUJAH!”
Suddenly the sky was filled with angels up in the sky… people with wings flying around and singing and having a party! They were hollering, “Joy to the world! God is the greatest! Peace! Peace to everybody! Peace and goodwill! Peace, love and joy to all!” The shepherds were freaked out! They were running around, bumping into each other, trying to calm the sheep, thinking they were going crazy having hallucinations…
But the angels said, “Hey y’all! Did you know that at this very moment, in the city of David, right over the hill there, is born the King of kings and the Lord of lords?! The Savior of all people! Y’all should go see! Just go over this hill and when you get to the bottom turn left and you’ll come to a stable behind a big hotel. Go in and you’ll see a baby lying in a feeding trough, wrapped up in some old towels. That’s the guy!” And then they disappeared.
In the sudden quiet the shepherds looked at each other and whispered… “You saw that right?” They agreed that they were not going crazy and decided to go see what all the fuss was about.
They went over the hill and turned left at the bottom and came to the stable and they found the baby Jesus just as the angels said. They told Mary and Joseph all that had happened. And they looked at baby Jesus and thought, “This baby is gonna change the world? This little baby is gonna be all that?” And they knew it was true. And they knelt and they worshipped him.
And that’s why we celebrate Christmas. Because God became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ. And Jesus was born to reunite us with God and to save us all from our sins. And because of Christmas, God is with us… always.
“Oh… can we eat now?”