Cincinnati Ohio was in the international headlines on BBC and CNN news. The headline says, “Zombie Nativity Scene draws ire in Ohio.” If you were to visit the front yard this display is in you would see three Zombie wise men, a Gloria Zombie Angel and Zombie Mary and Joseph looking down upon their zombie baby Jesus complete with sharp, pointy teeth. The couple that has put up the Zombie Nativity in their yard used leftovers from a Halloween haunted house he runs in Indiana. My first thought, pure and simple marketing scheme to get people to come to their haunted house attraction. It worked, the haunted house Facebook page has only 1,000 some followers but the zombie nativity scene has over 5,000 followers and there are links to the haunted house on the CNN website. (How’s that for free advertising!)
It makes me wonder when there is already so much hurt in our world there seems to be this desperate need to take beacons of hope, like a nativity scene that breath new life into the hearts and minds who hear the Christmas story and take those beacons of hope and make them into pictures of pain and suffering. It’s not that they can’t legally do something like this, covered by freedom of speech, but why do this, why take something good and make it something sad. In one way it is like taking survivors of violence who have fought hard to live and survive and give hope to others and saying they’re to blame for the abuse. Yet sometimes people say exactly that. The nativity story of Joseph, Mary and Jesus is just that, they are survivors of violence who lived underneath an oppressive dictatorial ruler, whose neighbors and friends would be regularly brutalized and threatened, soldiers were sent to kill them and they had to flee to a foreign country as refugees to survive. Simply the human side of the nativity story does not come from Hallmark and is not painted in candlelight glow but is the story of survivors of violence who fought hard to live and survive, to protect their child and each other in the worst of conditions and in that light alone are a symbol of hope for all who have suffered violence as well.
No one asked for this treatment and specifically if the reason is financial, whether it worked or not or legal, there is a larger story at play here. The bible speaks of all of humanity as being an enemy of God. (Romans 5:10 “For if while we were still enemies…) Not friends, not neutral, not Switzerland, but enemies, full on I will try to destroy you; I am against everything you stand for, enemies of God. The reason for all of this is because we want to be God, to say how things are or are not, to decide what is good and what is not, to exercise our freedom even if it means disgracing a symbol of hope, to say there are no rules or boundaries only what I want to be. At the very core of our sinful selves we don’t want God to be God, because if God is God then I’m not, there is an authority that is even greater than I am and that I will submit to and not indulge in what is offensive to God. There is no peace with God when I want to replace God.
I’ve thought about this one, I love a good scary story, I really like Halloween and I’ll even get into zombie stuff sometimes but I simply could not do this, could not place this in my yard, post this picture on FB or say it’s all in good fun. At my very core there is a roadblock, a solid brick wall that will not go there and it’s not only because of my deep set belief that this is an affront to a symbol of hope for those who have suffered violence but because I’ve changed, I’m not trying to be God, I’m at peace with God because of my savior Jesus born in that nativity. My body and soul still want to war with God but I’m on the other side of it now, at peace, forgiven and being drawn more closer to the God who loves me.
At peace with God there is a line in the sand that has been drawn between what is right and wrong, what is pleasing to God and what is not, what brings salvation and what brings damnation, these are not indiscriminate or random ideas but concrete values based in God’s Word.
That is the line that Jesus brought to our world on Christmas morn, a line that has always been there, between trying to replace God and loving God, but the nativity and the cross has drawn the distinct lines from Christmas to Easter where the battle for each life and soul is fought. This is a line that divides people, divides families, divides neighbors and communities; it is a line that is none other than the very salvation of the human being that is found in loving relationship with God through our savior or trying to be God, failing miserably and living apart from God eternally.
Christmas draws that line and thank God that it does because this isn’t a question of preference or artistic inspiration but a life line that has gone out into our world that is already as spiritually dead as those Christmas zombies and without that life line there would be no hope. This is why the angels sing at the nativity peace on earth because now peace with God is possible through this little one born in the manger.
This is important. As long as there is sin there will always be people who are enemies of God. There will always be people who try to twist the symbols of God’s love. There will always be people who are enemies with those who represent the Savior. But just because someone is an enemy of God and us does not mean we are their enemies. Jesus commanded love all of your neighbors and make enemies that are enemies with you? No… pray for your enemies and love them. We don’t have to fight or defend God because we already have all that we need, peace together with God. Amen.
(BTW- I will not share the link for the Zombie Nativity Scene, I don’t want to give them anymore free press then they already have, but I’m sure if you really wanted to google it you would find it easily enough.)