The Scripture Readings this week are:
- From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
- From the Gospel: Luke 1:47-55 (VU p.898)
- From the Gospel: Luke 1:68-79 (VU p.900)
- 1 O Come, O Come Emmanuel (vss 1,3,5,7)
- 44 It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
- 899 Song of Mary
- 46 Gentle Mary Laid Her Child
Early Thoughts: There is something revolutionary about Christmas. The coming of the babe in the manger brings a new changed world. Are you ready for God's justice to break into the world? Are you ready for the kingdom to come?
We tend to have a romantic vision of Mary. From the moment of the Annunciation through to the stable she is seen as a meek willing servant of God. And the Christmas story itself is romanticized with sweet smelling hay and gentle animals and a baby who "no crying he makes".
But Christmas has a revolutionary side to it. In a column for the Progress in 2002 I wrote:
...Mary sings a song that is nothing less than revolutionary. In Luke 1:47-55 Mary sings about the promise of God to overturn the tables of the powerful. Mary calls for the world to be reordered, for justice to be done, for the Reign of God to begin. This is the truth of Christmas.This Sunday we will read one of the most revolutionary texts in all of Scripture. In fact reading it is rumoured to have been banned at times (I'll check into that and let you know on Sunday). Mary's song is a song of God's Justice. It is a song that calls for the world order to be turned on its head. So too is Zechariah's song, albeit a little less forcefully.
On Christmas day we celebrate the birth of the child that sparked Mary 's song. As an adult this child would proclaim his ministry with words that echoed his mother's cry for justice (Luke 4:18-19). If we follow the path he followed, then we need to join in the struggle to fill the hungry with good things, to lift up the lowly, and to free those who are oppressed. On Christmas we mark the beginning of the revolution that will bring on the age of peace, the age where lion lies down with lamb and all have that which they need to live.
Christian faith is not mainly about individuals feeling good about themselves. It is not mainly about life beyond this one. Christian faith is mainly about how we live together in this life, it is about community. The path laid out by the Christ child is one of justice in this world. At Christmas we are flooded with requests for charity. But to truly celebrate Christmas we need to do more than write the cheques and donate the food.
The true Christmas gift is to make changes in society so that people don't need our donations to make it through the cold winter. What will our gift be this year?
This year, as we prepare once again to sing about angels and shepherds, I urge us once more to hear Mary's song of revolution. This year let us join in the revolution of faith - a faith that calls for a world renewed, a people restored, and a hope fulfilled.
At Christmas we talk about light breaking through the darkness of oppression and inequity. We talk about God choosing to come to earth as a member of the underclass. We talk about the God who brings freedom to the captive, who dethrones the mighty, who sends messengers to lead us in The Way.
As the Christmas revolution takes hold, which side will we find ourselves on? How will we join in the songs of justice?