Tuesday, December 23, 2014
See for yourself.
Take 30 minutes and read Matthew 1:1-2:23 and Luke 1:1-2:40. I think you'll get my point quickly.
For the beginning of the story of possibly the most famous, well-known birth in history, the account we're provided by Matthew and Luke is, well. . .it's a real mess!
For certain, these events shove up against an extremely "thin place" in the wall that separates human reality from the "other side," from the eternal.
There are rank sinners in the pedigree of this child, Jesus.
There are surprising happenings. I mean, really surprising.
An unwed teenage girl, now pregnant, but still a virgin, told by an angel that her child is the doing of God via the Holy Spirit.
A young man, pledged to the young woman, crushed by the news of her pregnancy, naturally. But, he too, reassured by an angel and by an angel's dreams that the entire turn of events is God's work and workings.
In fact, angels are everywhere in this story, as are the dreams they inspire.
And, it's an extended family deal with an old couple, related to the young, soon-to-be mother, now told again by an angel that they will have a child in their old age! The old man, who reasonably doubts this message, is struck speechless (by the head angel) until the child, John, arrives.
There are shepherds--labor union types, working men--looked down upon by most respectable people--whose days turn out uniformly tough, low wage affairs, now caught up in the atmospherics of absolute change and revolution of some sort.
Then, the young mother of Jesus, sings a song of radical liberation that cuts in ways that mean to alter economics and politics as she envisions the work of her boy. Her song is that of a poor woman who's read the Hebrew prophets with knowing recognition of experiences of oppression.
Even rich kings get in on the act and out fox an evil king who wants the virgin born boy dead. They return home at the behest of another angel while the young couple end up in Bethlehem, homeless and making do with a barnyard stable for a birthing room. After offering the sacrifice reserved for the poor (you see, these parents could be expected to show up at our food pantry today) to consecrate the infant, they go into exile in Egypt to escape the genocide perpetrated by mad King Herod.
This little family knew toxic stress and embraced faith to get through.
The little family became immigrants, refugees, strangers in a foreign land.
There is nothing about this narrative that is normal, ordinary or rational.
But then, that is its power.
Humanity stews in mess after mess of its own making.
God shows up with a light show only those open to revolution can comprehend!
Hang on, angels, kings, laborers, young folks, old folks, prophets and dreamers--God shows up again to shake the foundations for the healing, the repair of this world.
God calls us only to believe, one more time.