One of my favorite days of the year is the two days after Thanksgiving when my mom pulls up all the boxes from the basement containing Christmas decorations.
Our house quickly goes from being an autumn forest to a collection of snowflakes and angels that all scream Christmas. One of our favorite things are nativities—my mom makes it a goal to have one in every room of the house, including the bathrooms. She is a part of a missions organization and has found or been given manger scenes from all over the world. My favorite one is an ornament that was carved in the Black Forest of Germany.
My mom puts a large one on top of our wall units in the living room. She has a full Peruvian set and a Spanish-Indian set that only fits in that one space. Some years she puts up one or the other, but she loves both of them so much that often she will mix the sets together. She will take Joseph from one and Mary from the other and keep combining them until she runs out of room. It seems strange to have characters from different sets together, especially when they are already so many different representations of the nativity, but it seems to work in my house.
During the last year, our country has come through a very difficult election. I suppose that elections have always been divisive, but I do not remember seeing two candidates develop a platform mostly based on not being the other one. A lot of people cast their vote for a candidate not because he or she was qualified, but because he or she was better than the other one. This election was not a question of policies or values, but of fear and hate, asking whom we dislike more.
I do not think this means that individual voters consciously participated in this mindset, but that the nature of the two candidates and how they handled themselves divided people. There was no middle ground; we were not allowed to see the good in both. The result of this is our country holding itself at arm’s length. Clinton supporters do not want to be Trump supporters and vice versa. I highly doubt that it will be any different in four years. Our country is becoming more and more divided.
Part of the beauty of Christmas is God did not treat us as like we have treated each other. If anyone had an excuse to hold us at arm’s length, it was God. By His very identity, God is different from us; because if He is not different from us, He would cease to be God.
If anyone had an excuse for not associating with “those people,” God did, but that is not what He did. He came down to us, and not just as Himself, but He became one of us. He decided that the distinctions between God and man were not as important as redeeming us, and He calls His people to be like Him. I think at the very least that means looking at people who are different than us, acknowledging that their concerns are valid and admitting our party is not perfect either.
Christianity is not about being right or having the ability to say “I told you so.” It is about reaching out to one’s neighbor and attempting to understand them. That is why God took the trouble to come all the way down here, and that is why we ought to take the trouble to heal the divide we placed between ourselves. The world is not going to make it easier to get along just because the election is over, so we must be the ones to reach out to “those people,” even when we do not agree.
I think that Heaven is going to be a lot like my mom’s nativities. Revelation does not show a homogenous group of people who are exactly like each other. We are going to spend eternity with people from all different backgrounds: ethnic, political and economic. We are going to learn how to all get along together there, so why are we not practicing here?
—Grace Pelley, Staff Writer