Luke 1:46-55, 2:10-12
The Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55 is a song of revolution – political, social, spiritual revolution. The song of Mary is powerful and prophetic. It is a declaration of liberation and emancipation, a construction of a new social order for all people to live with hope.
The angelic proclamation in Luke 2:10-22 contains the subversive aspect of Christmas. The language of the angel is political, “Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” This child is the anti-Caesar. What is being proclaimed is not a new religion, but the birth of a child who will later radically oppose the designs of the Empire. It declares how Jesus’ kin-dom and the Roman kingdom begin to clash. Under the reign of a descendant of David, people will be liberated from Rome and from Herod. The proclamation expresses the longing for liberation of people who are oppressed by a system put in place by the Empire of the day. At each step in the nativity story, ‘the family’ experiences the political, social and spiritual consequences of being chosen to bring the Messiah into the world.
Nothing fundamental has changed. Empires follow one another. They are all the same, manifesting themselves in domination, arrogance, highest culture, highest civilisation, etc. If there is any difference from previous empires, it lies in the effects. Today, we see an ever-increasing rate of destruction and damage to the environment and humans in the world.
A new discernment on the subversiveness of Christmas demands a new understanding of the world system—who is in charge and where it is going? Do we pledge our allegiance to those who achieve power by violence and economic or political exploitation? Or do we pledge our allegiance to values that promote life-flourishing communities, identifying with those in need and working for peace and justice in the world? The bottom line: which ‘lord’ does our loyalty lie with: Christ or Caesar?
-Julie Sim, Council for World Mission
O God, we come to you this Christmas with thankful hearts. We praise you for the gift of Jesus, our saviour. We are deeply grateful that Jesus can change our stories of hardship into testimonies of hope. We rejoice in all the great things you have done for us. Guide us, O God, so we can bear witness to your love, grace and justice.