“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.” – Luke 1: 51 – 53
After Mary learns that she is to give birth to the Holy One of God, she breaks into song. But it’s not quite the song you might expect. More battle cry than lullaby, it is a song about false powers toppled, the lowly raised up, and a world remade.
There are two possibilities here. One is that Mary has her lines wrong. She was supposed to be appearing in “Miracle on 34th Street,” but somehow she picked up the script for “Exodus.”
The other possibility is that we have Christmas wrong.
That second possibility would explain a few things. Like why a young girl, an “unwed mother,” is center stage, while the guy whose job title is “king” goes ballistic and orders a hit on a toddler. Or why this birth takes place in an animal shelter and not the best birthing room in town. Or why all the big time experts haven’t a clue, while three strangers with stars in their eyes are on course.
God, this God, is in the business of turning things upside down.
If we are right to interpret this message on the big screen of society and social justice (and we are), it belongs also on the small screen of your soul-health and mine.
The upside-down-thing begins at home, with you, with me. Because there’s a way in which our original sin is setting ourselves up as little kings and judges, imagining we are God. Bad news/ Good news: we have been deposed from our self-made thrones, brought down from the high ground where we judge others while assuring ourselves of our perfect virtue.
God has “scattered the proud in their inmost thoughts . . . and has lifted up the humble.”
“Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us this day.”
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.