Rediscovering the Joy of Two Christmases
December 6, 2022
On November 10, 2022, I had the pleasure and honor of welcoming Garrett’s alumni back to the classroom. As part of Garrett’s first Homecoming event, I was invited to teach a class for our alumni on the two Christmases found in the New Testament (Matthew and Luke).
Together we celebrated the two Christmases and considered these passages with critical lenses as a way for us to understand whose voices are prioritized and whose voices are muted. We observed that the question is less of historicity (which Gospel is historically accurate), but more of contextual expressions of faith by both authors. The differences between Matthew and Luke reflect their unique encounters with the divine. From there, we shared our unique experiences of the divine, and placed particular emphasis on reflecting on their time studying at Garrett. We realized that Matthew emphasizes the importance of Jesus as an asylum seeker to Egypt. Jesus was an Egyptian Jew, probably of the 1.5 generation, with hybrid identities. We pondered the possibility for Garrett becoming the “Egypt” for those who are seeking refuge. How can Garrett become a refuge for the oppressed?
We ended the session not just with biblical reflections, but also with joy and laughter; with stories and narratives that reminisced about the past when their footsteps once traversed these hallowed halls. With alumni represented from the 60s, 70s, 90s, and even 2022. What a group! When they shared the names of the professors they studied with, I was amazed and so happy to engage with our shared and lasting experiences!
Overall, I was less concerned about how much they have learned about the two Christmases or forcing myself to share some cutting-edge information. Rather, my hope was for them to feel like Garrett would always be their home, a refuge, a place of solace, and their beloved community. For me Homecoming and advent is hope-becoming: a place for all of us to find ourselves while dreaming of possibilities to come.
Dr. Dong Hyeon Jeong is an assistant professor of the New Testament and director of the Center for Asian/Asian American Ministry. The son of Korean missionaries in the Philippines, Jeong is an ordained elder in the Philippine Central Conference, Manila Episcopal Area, Southwest Philippines Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Jeong’s area of expertise includes biblical studies and languages, social justice, race and ethnicity, and posthumanism.