A very happy Christmas to you! Last year was a very strange Christmas, indeed and as I write I can’t really be sure what this Christmas will be like. We are very familiar with the Christmas story and the birth of the baby Jesus that we can easy forget how radical the Christmas message is take Mary for example.

Despite the low status of an unmarried young woman in first-century Middle Eastern society, Mary clearly has a well developed relationship with her God, and an understanding of the history of God’s relationship with her people. She is articulate in her insights into the topsy-turvy nature of what has happened to her, an insignificant girl chosen and entrusted to bear the incarnate God. We can’t help thinking that the son born and raised by this brave and faithful young woman will turn the world upside down.

Mary lays down quite a challenge to those who follow her son. Are we to be content with the status quo, meekly accepting the divide between rich and poor, powerful and lowly? Are we to go along with a world order where it is acceptable for many to go hungry when some have so much more than they will ever need? Or are we to follow a God who joyfully turns all this on its head, blessing those whom the world does not bless, and rewarding faithfulness with a close and loving relationship? 

The revolutionary God whom Mary praises in the Magnificat is not the God of respectable institutions or the establishment, neither then nor in our own time. It is not the authorities (Herod and the chief priests) who recognise the birth of the Son of God, but itinerant agricultural workers (the shepherds) and foreign scientists (the Magi). 

And what about us? Are we, like the rich man elsewhere in Luke’s Gospel, to be sad because Jesus requires us to set aside worldly success to follow him? Or will we take our place alongside those who are lowly and hungry, and those who faithfully believe God’s promises, knowing that it is there that God’s blessing is to be found.

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Please note that FRIDAY is my day off!