The Christmas "Jesus from Below"
Last week, I received the following e.mail update from Kris Rocke. I’ve come to respect Kris, who is one of teachers in our FYI Urban Youth Ministry Certificate program, and the Executive Director of the Center for Transforming Mission. I haven’t verified the data below, but I love the idea of welcoming the “Jesus from below…” Maybe this can help you have a more justice-centered and authentic discussion about Christmas with teenagers.
“If John the Baptist teaches us anything, it is safe to say that, in all of our preparations for the messiah, we almost never prepare for the one that actually comes. Biblically speaking, Christmas ALWAYS comes as a surprise. The invitation of the Gospel is to learn how to welcome the Jesus that actually shows up, whether we’ve prepared for him or not.
When we take the stained glass off the text and set aside the sentimental projections of ourselves, the Jesus of the Bible is breathtaking and takes on a decidedly subversive shape - one that I am not altogether comfortable with, if I am honest. However, my hunch is that for every person in the world who is afflicted by this portrait there are at least 10 others who are comforted.
The following is a simple portrait of Christ that we use in our training. We call it ‘Jesus from below.’ It is the Jesus that emerges when we read the Bible with and for those who have been labeled the least. It is a decidedly different image from the one that emerges when we read the Bible from the position of power, which often yields a Jesus that justifies us.
The portrait deserves more explanation, but hopefully you will be able to see its biblical roots. The inset facts represent those who might find comfort in this messiah. May it be so this Christmas.
The Middle East is Asiatic
Nearly 60% the world is Asian born
MIXED RACE HERITAGE
See Matthew’s genealogy
Multi-racial is fastest growing demo in the U.S.
SCANDALOUS GRANDMAS OF CHRISTMAS
Grandma Tamar (prostitute)
Grandma Rahab (prostitute)
Grandma Ruth (Incest survivor)
Grandma Bathsheba (Murderous Affair)
4 million women, children victims of sexual slavery and trafficked as sex slaves in world worth $20 billion annually.
Not everybody bought the virgin Birth story.
79% of births to teenagers in U.S. are outside marriage resulting in bastard children.
Mary was probably 13
One million teenage girls become pregnant every year in the U.S.
Temple offering of the poor
1.7 Million U.S. children are in families that live on less than $6645 a year for family of 5.
Flees persecution to Egypt
50 million people in the world have been forced to flee their homes in the last 10 years.
Returns to Israel
8.7 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
DRUNKARD & GLUTTON
Friend of sinners
8 million suffer from alcoholism and 15 million from drug dependency
Jesus’ family thought he was “out of his mind”
45 million suffer serious mental illness
Went through cities of Galilee
By 2020 over 60% of the world’s population will be urban, young and poor.
No place to “lay his head”
3 million homeless men, women and children, last year in US
Broke Sabbath Laws
25% of Young Adult African American Males are Incarcerated or on parole.
DESPISED & REJECTED
Seen as cursed by God
The leading motivations for hate crimes in U.S. are “race” 53% religion 16% and sexual orientation 15%
Every 11 minutes a child is reported abused or neglected in the U.S. - nearly 3 million.
FORSAKEN BY FATHER
“My God, My God…”
Of 72 million young people in US, almost 25% live w/o their father. 50% for African-American
Black males (14-24) make up 1% of the U.S. population but 30% of all homicides.
RESURRECTED AS WOUNDED HEALER
Shows Thomas his eternal wounds
150 million suffer from a chronic medical condition. 5 Million suffer chronic pain. 15% of vets suffer severe depression/PTSD.
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