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Herods, Past and Present

By Arturo Cadar
December 13, 2023

Photo by Pro Church Media.

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
  Matthew 2.13

I was 10 years old when I heard the news on the radio in July of 1969. Just overnight, without prior warning or public consent, Christmas celebrations were forbidden and suspended indefinitely on the island. The government of Cuba had already imprisoned hundreds of preachers and religious leaders in their effort to do away with Christianity, but forbidding the celebration of Christmas was now a new evil high for the religious oppression initiative of the Communist regime that my family and I left behind 52 years ago.

No Christmas in Cuba? What were they thinking? I was devastated, but in retrospect, I now know that my devastation had nothing to do with the fact that toys were now a thing of the past. Toys, in fact, had already been rationed to three toys per child while supplies lasted, and I always got the same three toys anyway: Chinese metal roller skates, a ball, and a bat. So, it wasn’t about the toys, nor was it about the gifts, nor about how much we would miss decking the halls or getting in line to take our pictures with Santa. Christmas in Cuba was never about these.

A Cuban Christmas was always about celebrating family, friends, and relationships; it was about sharing and spreading the joy of the season, literally from home to home, almost daily, from about mid-December through the day of Epiphany (Three-Kings Day) which is when children received their toys. That’s what I would miss. I would miss the joy of Christmas as it reflected on the faces of my loved ones during our celebrations. That’s what the Cuban people missed out on for almost 20 years. It wasn’t until after Pope John Paul II’s visit to Cuba, in 1998, that the Cuban people were again permitted  to celebrate Christmas.

So, just as Herod tried to kill the first Noel more than 2000 years ago, not long ago, another dictator tried to kill the spirit of the living Noel, in Cuba. No  government should ever have the right to forbid the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and no family should ever be denied the joy that the Christmas season brings to the world. During this Advent and Christmas season, let us pray for those who live in places where celebrating the Christmas joy, the Joy of the living Christ, is still forbidden.

Prayer: Father, your gifts are irrevocable, and no human being should forbid any other human being the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. Consider those who are religiously oppressed today and liberate them to experience the joy of Christmas freely according to your will. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Rev. Arturo Cadar is the Lead Pastor at Revive! Church in Pasadena, Texas, and he is also a member of the Global Methodist Church’s Transitional Leadership Council.

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