Luke 1 (Nelson’s American Standard Revised)
Even though many have tried to peer into the future, to figure out what is coming next and next and next, I thought I would speculate as well.
Nine months before a baby is born, the mom is visited in a dream by an Angel from the Health and Human Services Department. The conception announcement is usually pretty boiler plate.
One time though, this angel named Gabriel visited a young woman named Michelle who was living in Kansas City and was engaged to a young man named John.
And appearing in Michelle’s dream, Gabriel said, “Greetings, favored one! You have been selected to have a baby.” But Michelle was perplexed by this because she had not had sex with John, and she knew people were only allowed two babies, usually only after they were married, working full-time, had a paid-off car, and were in good-standing with their thirty-year mortgage. Having a baby when you were single, still in school, and riding a bike created problems with your Universal Income status.
Gabriel said to her, “Do not be afraid; for you have found favor with the Department of Health and Human Services. You will conceive a baby, a boy, and you will name him George. He will have a great life! He will be a United States citizen, have plenty to eat, get a good education, have a decent job, and eventually own a car and home! And better yet, you will retain all your benefits! With a little hard work, and as long as you play by the rules, your family will achieve the dream come true!”
Then Michelle was greatly perplexed.
Michelle simply said to Gabriel, “How can this be, since I am still a virgin?” And Gabriel said, “Are you sure there hasn’t been some heavy petting or something?” And Michelle said, “No. Definitely not.”
And Gabriel thought, “Oh shit! How did this happen!?! I can’t tell her about the artificial insemination program!” So, Gabriel made something up, right there on the spot.
Gabriel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
And Michelle said, “You are freaking me out.”
Then Gabriel left Michelle’s dream. But she was pregnant, there was no denying it. And then John was greatly perplexed. Michelle told him the story about the angel and the dream, but he was still a little skeptical.
Since John was an investigative reporter, eventually the truth got out or he was killed. The author has not decided yet.
Switching time frames and characters, we come back to the near-future.
Now, in those days an executive order went out from President Trump, that a registration be made of all the inhabitants of the United States. This was the first registration taken while Sam Brownback was governor of Kansas. And everyone who did not have a birth certificate on file with the Office of Vital Records was on their way to register, each to their own State or Country of origin. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Jose also went from Kansas City to Mexico City, because he was an undocumented worker, in order to register along with Maria, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were on their way, passing through Dallas, Texas, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in a newspaper, and laid him in their shopping cart, because there was no room for them in the hospital. And besides, Trump had revoked all their rights, they didn’t have insurance anymore, and they were afraid they might get arrested.
They named him Immanuel, which means “God with us,” but they didn’t get a birth certificate.
In the first one hundred days, Trump doubled down. He built the wall between the United States and Mexico and demanded that Mexico pay for it. Then he took away ISIS’s oil and cut off their head, and then tens of millions of Muslim refugees flooded into Europe. Trump declared that China was a currency manipulator.
The war started. China (except for Taiwan), Mexico, most of the Middle East (except Israel and Saudi Arabia), and most of industrialized Europe (except England and Switzerland) declared war on the United States. Russia, after demanding certain mineral rights in any conquered lands and winning concessions on human rights, declared an alliance with the United States. Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Australia also allied with the United States, but mostly they tried to stay out of it.
Blessed are you who rest from your running, for you shall receive new strength.
Blessed are you who hunger for justice, mercy, and righteousness, for you will be filled with justice, mercy, and righteousness. Your time will come.
Blessed are you who are humble, for the earth will be your garden and your children’s garden.
Blessed are you who are persecuted because of your righteousness, for you will be vindicated.
Blessed are you who mourn yet do not lose hope, for you shall be comforted.
Blessed are you who do not see and yet believe. Blessed are you who do not understand how you will qualify for Boston; and yet keep on running, keep on training, keep on believing.
When did Jesus figure out that God was his father? Was it like Luke Skywalker found out when Darth Vader told him, a posteriori? Or did he just always know, a priori, like a Presbyterian knows they’ve always been God’s child? There was never a moment. It was just always the truth. But his mom or his dad or his Dad probably told him at some point, right? Or maybe Jesus just figured it out. Or maybe he knew all the time.
What is it about fathers and our relationship with them? Like Caffee in A Few Good Men, we strive to live up to their expectations, even if they are long-gone. Are you the kid in Breaking Bad keeping up with his father’s drinking? We have to be our own people, we don’t share all of their passions or their preferences, and yet we fear that we are turning into them.
We are subject to the same foibles; made in their images, usually raised in their homes. Yet, we are not able to learn from mistakes that we never knew were made.
Of course, Jesus’ Dad never made any mistakes.
It is some comfort to me that I am becoming my mom.
Instead, we should try to keep up with our kids; strive to live up to their expectations. Of course, Nelson’s fifteen-year-old could already beat him in the 5K, without even training, without even trying. There was no keeping up with him. And his mom tried to eat fresh jalapenos and drink a little red wine, but she couldn’t do it.
Did you hear the one about the parent whose son has been hit by a train? They rushed down to the tracks, and they saw his body strung out; but they were looking for his ears. And they tucked the first one into their pocket. When they found the other one, they took them both out, pinched the ears in their fingers and shouted, “How many times have I told you NOT to play on the railroad tracks?!?”
Did Mary say the same to Jesus? “How many times did I tell you NOT to heal on the Sabbath! NOT to hang out with tax-collectors and lepers! NOT to question the scribes and the Pharisees! I knew this would not end well…”