More midrash than fiction: David Henson’s “Christmas, Undocumented.”

Sometime last week, I stumbled across David R. Henson‘s remarkable project “Christmas, Undocumented.” On this Christmas Eve, I made the time to sit down and read it. Henson describes this retelling of the nativity story as “more midrash than fiction” as he responds creatively to the question, “How would Jesus be born today?”

The answer: to an illegal alien.

“Christmas, Undocumented” is Henson’s re-imagining of Mary’s journey through pregnancy to Jesus’ birth. It is gripping. It comes in two parts and will take longer to read than the average blog post, but it is worth it for how it contextualizes the birth narrative in a challenging way–what Henson calls “jarringly modern and political.” Gabriel becomes a coyote named Gabby, Mary a young immigrant named Ave, the stable a detention center for illegals, and so on.

If you think about it, Jesus himself becomes in a way what some people would call an “anchor baby”–though, as you’ll see, it doesn’t help Ave’s case.

How would Jesus be born today? I invite you to read Henson’s response and share your thoughts (either here or with Henson on Facebook), remembering that on this night Mary was not a middle-class woman awaiting a pain-free birth in a sterile hospital but a poor soon-to-be refugee girl straddling a filthy feeding trough.

“Christmas, Undocumented” Part 1 (PDF) // “Christmas, Undocumented” Part 2 (PDF)

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About Sarah S. Howell

I'm interested in worship, the arts, community building, challenging assumptions, and making holy mischief.
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