Happy birthday, Brutha Jesus. (THIS is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown)
Updated: Dec 25, 2019
Today's my favorite holiday of the year. Jesus' birthday.
Okay, nobody really knows when he was actually born, but we celebrate it on December 25th for all kinds of reasons. Some of which I'm not too proud of, but...we won't go there today.
Cause for me, Christmas is real personal.
And if you're squeamish about God talk...stop reading right here. Seriously.
I'm one of those people that make Bill Maher sputter and shiver and shake his head.
I love the Guy. It's not about The Book. Or The Rules. I walk His talk. I talk to Him.
One of my favorite gospel songs insists that "He lives." And I'm down with that. I dance to it a lot--that's how I pray sometimes. I sing and dance. Listen up--I dare you not to dance to this one. No matter how skeptical you may be.
Totally selfish, my devotion. I admit that, too.
Dude gives mad gifts, once He knows you're serious. All the single ladies...this kind of attention? Those dudes on Match.com?
They can't touch this.
Saved my life twice, too. Literally. I have "cheated" death with His help and blown medical minds, even at the Mayo Clinic, in the process.
OH--and I hated church, by the way, as a kid. I still have trouble with it.
My godfather was the much respected pastor of a very popular one on Chicago's south side, but I thought it was all a lot of nonsense.
Sistas competing for his attention. All the attention. Brothas, too, trying to "out shout" one another when the Holy Ghost power started racing through the pews.
They'd get to crip walking for Christ up and down those aisles. Speaking in "tongues." Falling out and convulsing on the floor and whatnot.
And then as soon as they hit the streets and parking lot the "Did you see that?" stuff started. Who did what to who, who was looking at who...
Omigod--where was that God they were all performing for once they got out there? Where'd all that "holy, holy, holy"go?
I found it when I was about 10 years old, in the red text of the big white Bible my mother bought me. Back then most Black kids got a black or white Bible, the ones with the zipper, in which all the big events of our lives would be noted from then on.
I think girls got the white one. All my BFFs had white ones, anyway.
Nobody ever explained why. I just got one. And being a bookish sort of kid, I decided to read the damned thing on my own.
And when I got to that red text, I started to dig it. I mean, I also dug some of the nasty bits before that--the sexy ones. That Song of Solomon that was too hot for me to handle, almost.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine...
And that's just foreplay, people. Nobody told me these people did the deed so much. All kinda deeds.
Especially Baptists like my mother, who kinda like to pretend we don't even have bodies. Let alone parts you can play with.
And this Jesus guy was forever forgiving people for doing it, too. I sort of felt like if my mother ever really met Him, she wouldn't like Him very much.
Course, He was "on trend" at that time--60s. And in the portraits he looked like a member of the cast of Hair.
Sandals. Long hair. He wasn't Black yet. But the Black folks takin' it to the streets tended to take Him along. Called upon Him. A lot.
I totally understood why, the more I read. He was forever standing up for the "wrong" people. Poor people. Sick people. Tax collectors and other pariahs.
Took a woman with him. Mary Magdalene. Upset some of his later "followers" so much they turned her into a whore. Truth being she was a wealthy woman who financed his ministry.
But he was partial to whores, too. Like that one he walked up to at the well. They teach you that she was there in the middle of the day to keep from being chastised by the "good" women in her village.
Jesus, of course, strolled right over and asked for a drink of water from her. Got into a little smack talk with her, too--she gave as good as she got. And he liked it.
So did I.
Yeah, yeah, He turned water into wine at a wedding, too. To keep the party goin'. But also sort of to say, "I'm the wine, okay? You feelin' me?"
Knowing how childish we can be, He would do these crazy things to get our attention. And then probably sit there shaking His head when we missed the point over and over again.
Maybe that's why he knocked over all those tables in the temple. Frustration. Ah ha--God gets mad. Confused. Scared, even.
I liked, that, too.
But what I liked most was that no matter what, he kept on walking. Talking. Up close and personal, not from some pulpit.
You could touch Him. He would touch you for sure, if you got close enough.
So by the time I got to the part where He let Himself die on that damned cross, I was truly traumatized.
I knew He did it to show me how to "do life." Die and come back. Die and come back. A little stronger and wiser each time.
If you get confused...go 'way out in the "desert" somewhere all by yourself. Suffer up a vision or two.
Come back and tell people about it. Those who'll listen. And keep walkin'. With the ones who do.
So at some point, I started talking to Him. Not praying, just talking. I would tell Him stuff I was thinking. Stuff I wanted to do.
And stuff started to happen. Just as I asked. Sometimes even better--this is the part that freaks people out, but I swear, it still happens. Regularly.
He's very specific, if I am. And once that happens, once you get a real "answer,"it's kinda hard to nay-say anymore.
I quit trying. I also quit arguing with people who can't handle it.
You've either been there or you haven't. And if you haven't, hell yeah, it sounds crazy. But...I'm cool with crazy.
Except, He also has a tendency to give you what you ask for even when it's not worth asking for. And then sits back and watching you find that out the hard way.
And then He welcomes you back and has me do something with that lesson that is worth doing. People ask me why I write for free so much. There it is.
He needs me to say stuff. So I ship it on out there and see who notices. Reaching one or two people now and then, that's all the payment I need. But somewhere down the line, one of two of those people will either hire me or otherwise make some huge difference in my life, unexpectedly.
Another life lesson. "Give...and ye shall receive." Just may take a while...
That's okay. And I don't pray for favors. I kinda don't pray "for" anything.
My only "rote" prayer is part of St. Patrick's Breastplate, which sounds, also, very much like the Navajo Beautyway. It calls Him to me.
Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Works for us.
And every Christmas, I get on the good foot with Quincy Jones' legendary Soulful Celebration that does Handel like nobody else could. Dance some more--go on. It's party time:
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