A memory hit me tonight out of the blue. When I was about 12 or 13, I organized the neighborhood kids into going Christmas caroling. We even re-enacted the Nativity scene. Some of the older girls would take turns being Mary (if I remember correctly, it took a quite of bit of negotiating since all the older girls wanted to be Mary). We managed to get a couple of boys to take turns being Joseph. Then we would walk to a house, get ourselves into our Nativity tableau, and ring the doorbell. And sing our young little hearts out when the door was opened.
I imagine it created quite a stir. Because with all the difficulty in arranging who would be Mary and Joseph, there was no doubt who would be the baby Jesus, curled up in Mary’s lap. The youngest and smallest child had to be baby Jesus. A girl who was about five or six years old. I don’t think the girl was even from our neighborhood, but just there visiting. A little black girl.
Keep in mind, this was the South, not too long after the Civil Rights movement. And I’m sure there were many families who just couldn’t conceive of a black Jesus, let alone a black, female Jesus. There are people today who would find that sacrilegious. And I found myself giggling tonight, thinking of the shock that some of those people had to have experienced. And what could they say? We were innocent kids, sharing the message of Christ in a way that spoke louder than the carols we were singing.
Merry Christmas, y’all!