Christmas Eve arrived as suddenly as did the Christmas season.
The Washingtons had spent substantial amounts of money in an effort to buy good cheer for themselves and for Liberty, and the Harhashes, though they spent very little on decorations or gifts, were feeling the cheer of their fellowship with God and Douglass’ family and Unity.
The group had found a small cave just outside of town, borrowed a few sheep, and after doing some research regarding the Church of the Nativity, set up a “manger” and publicized it among the local churches. They had enjoyed good crowds but on Christmas Eve there was a line to come down the trail to the cave. It was a clear and cold evening that night, but the members of the Nativity could see in the faces and eyes of the visitors that they were making an impact.
In a last ditch effort to catch the spirit of the season, Reagan and Liberty loaded up and drove out to see the “show.” After driving through some neighborhoods to enjoy the Christmas lights, they parked on the side of the road at the trailhead to walk down to the cave. Just after they went into the woods, Rosy happened by on her way back into town from visiting a relative, and spotted Reagan’s suv. She pulled over and turned off her car, but then sat still, wondering whether to go talk to them or not. After an emotional struggle, she gathered up some courage, buttoned her coat, and started down the trail.
Reagan and Liberty saw the silhouette of an angel silently greeting them as they entered the cave and beheld the re-enactment. The smell of livestock, the dank cave, the small but warm fire and the smoke from it, and finally, a dark skinned mother and father cradling an dark skinned infant wrapped tightly for warmth and security. For all the chatter that was happening outside, their was a definite hush within, as the “pilgrims” felt like they were in the real thing. For each group that entered the cave, the story from Luke was read as they gazed upon the scene, and then another group was let in. Reagan and Liberty’s group were ushered out the same way they came in, but were directed to take a different path back up to the road, so they could meet the wise men on the way.
Rosy was coming down the path about the time that Reagan and Liberty were exiting, and as she saw the silhouette of the angel, Reagan and Liberty saw her, paused, and looked up at the lighted side of the Angel, whose head was just then turned, and in unison shouted “UNITY!” Rosy, hearing this, began climbing up the hill as Unity was half sliding down, and they all collided in the trail in a messy ball of twigs and leaves and tears and hugs.
The apologies were flying in every direction. Forgiveness was in the air like the scent of the cold cedars and pines around them. Given the reunion in the trail, other visitors soon realized that this was the lost Unity they had heard about, and they began to celebrate with the Washingtons, to the point that “Mary and Joseph” and the “wise men” came to see what was happening. Unity introduced them, and once the Washingtons understood the saving intentions behind the original plan, and Unity’s cooperative role in it, more forgiveness was doled out and apologies accepted.
Reagan and Roosevelt went home together that night, along with Liberty and Unity. The family had dinner with the Harhashes and Douglass’ family, enjoying their common bonds and thanking God for Unity as much as Liberty.
From that day, though Christmas and the New Year, the Washingtons treasured Unity as well as Liberty, stopped attacking one another in such ways as to offend the children, and opened their hearts to people of darker skin instead of being victimized by their own stereotypes.
What is Christmas about, if not Forgiveness? What is the Nativity about, if not the Unity and Liberty found in the Gospel? Christmas can’t be about things that weren’t present in the original story, so it is not about the lights or the politics or the political correctness of the manner by which we greet one another. Christ came as a human infant to offer forgiveness and unity among men, if they would simply accept Him. In this story, people of different skin tones and backgrounds and cultures, with different levels of guilt and sin in their past or in their hearts, found the forgiveness and fellowship that He offers. My hope is that the real culture would do likewise, but for now I guess I’ll settle for fiction.