This came in my work e-mail Saturday--and I wrote it! It is a column I wrote for the paper in 2002 and no longer have on my computer (since I changed computers in 2004). IT came back at a timely point since it ties in nicely with my planned sermon for Sunday.
A young woman, pregnant when she shouldn't be, in a world where the penalty for such a pregnancy could well be death. She is scared. She is not sure what to do. Thus begins the story we tell every year at this time. Most people in this situation would share Mary's confusion, her fear, her powerlessness. But Mary does not stop there. Mary is not the gentle, meek and mild handmaiden of carols and storybooks. She is indeed a strong, rebellious woman; ready to face the challenge of this unexpected child. In the face of her disgrace Mary seeks the support of her cousin. Then 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.
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.