Somewhere along the line I discovered something that is common to all children: they learn how to survive. Jonathan Kozol describes the lives of several children who live in the South Bronx, and the ordinary resurrections which arise out of the love of their families and the extraordinary community of St. Ann's Episcopal Church in the South Bronx. Kozol describes many near-misses of death or tragedy for many of these kids, but their survival skills get them through.
In many ways the Christmas story is as much a story of survival as it is about birth.
Jesus survived the birth in a rather unhygienic stable. He and his family survived the treachery of Herod, who had his lackeys sweep through the villages to murder newly born boys. No king likes to be threatened by the arrival of another king, no matter how young he may be.
Jesus survived. And so did his story, despite the efforts of countless emperors over three centuries to squash it.
The story survived -- because it is a story about life. I think the reason that kids instinctively learn to survive, is because deep down they know the task for living is not about survival but about life. The promise of abundant life. Joanthan Kozol clearly illustrates the reality that our culture/society/public education system does not dole out abundance of opportunity in equal portions. Some are under-privileged; some are over-privileged. And many of us say that this is how it is -- and settling for survival is as much as we can do.
Jesus -- the master of survival, even at the end when it was thought he was dead, but he wasn't, demonstrated that survival isn't good enough. He came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Our job -- as disciples, as Christians, is to insist -- however we can, that this abundance needs to be spread around. To everyone.