Rev. Jesse L. JacksonBy Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson is urging Christians to explore the real meaning of Christmas and take action to improve conditions in Urban America.He delivered the passionate message on December 20 during a visit with the editors of the L.A. Sentinel as he prepared for convening an Economic Summit in New York City in January. "I see more and more people going to church, but that doesn't mean more people have faith and substance. During this season, so many of us are worshipping Santa, not Christ," said Rev. Jackson. "Christmas has nothing to do with Santa Claus, the culture of St. Nicholas, reindeer and electric lights. Christmas is about a people, who are oppressed under Roman government, looking forward to an Emancipator - a kind of Martin Luther King or Caesar Chavez, upon whom shoulders governments will rest. An Emancipator who will help the poor, delivers the needy, and heals the brokenhearted."Comparing the main figures of the Christmas story with today's times, Rev. Jackson described Mary as a freedom fighter. "When Herod sought kill all the first-born, Mary didn't submit. She and Joseph went to Egypt and made Jesus a refugee until He was 12. Jesus grew up poor, under Roman oppression. Today, 45 million Americans are in poverty. How do we treat that? Jesus was an at-risk child. How do we treat at-risk children today?"Rev. Jackson recommended that congregations mobilize and work together to fight oppression. "Churches must act en mass, fighting the Herods of our times and Roman governments of our times until righteousness and justice come. "In the past, ministers were revolutionaries fighting injustice. They fought illegal segregation with Dr. King and marched to fight for the right to vote. But our mission is not accomplished because in many areas, businesses are closed, houses are in foreclosure, and we seemed to have adjusted rather than fight back."Explaining that people who are oppressed must not adjust or get comfortable, Rev. Jackson said, "One thing works in slavery and that's adjusting. Instead, we need a plan for reconstruction of urban America. Until there is some plan, we must be restless about unemployment, about housing, and about more black boys in prison than in colleges." Rev. Jackson concluded by urging Christians not to become only admirers of the cross of Jesus Christ. "Jesus said to follow Him, pick up the cross. Believers must pick up the cross to fight for justice, peace, fairness, equality. We must not have silence from the pulpit during these times. We must have hope and substance to survive these times."