Lent Bible Challenge | Day 5
We often don't read more than the first 7 or 20 verses, if we're lucky, of this birth story of Jesus in Luke. Sentenced to cuteness and snow-globe like interpretations of the baby, clean with afterbirth missing, in a nice manger visited by exotic shepherds and magi - it rings false to our modern sensibilities: contrived and propoganda-ish. Maybe it is. Yet it what the story communicates to me is radical reversal: this king, contrary to the high king of the Roman Empire, is born in poverty, among the proletariat, overlooked by the powerful yet recognized by the poor and the scientific. Continuing with the encounter of Simeon and Anna 8 days later at the "briss", the prophecies are again lifted up: this baby is born to bring light to darkness, in a spiritual sense certainly, but the words are more about economic equity, racial/cultural equality, military defeat and shalom-wholeness. We miss that in December - at least I do in the adverts, aisles of Target, Tree Lots and often in worship services. The story is the story of what we could call God's Bail Out: not based upon trickle down notions of freedom and justice-making, but a salvation that we ourselves are called to receive, participate in and expand. Truly good news - that not even Hallmark would dare to put on a greeting card.
I liked the recent Nativity Story movie - it was stereotypically traditional in some of its retelling and also was realistic in terms of its authentic inclusion of cultural/gender/sociological bits that are probably more historically accurate than what we've gotten in claymation retellings of the story. Here's a clip - from the end - my favorite part has to do with the shepherds - the poorest of the poor, called from the margins of society to testify to radical hope to all those in that society which first rejected them.