21 December 2011

Christmas... disruption and celebration

by Dr Rod Thompson

God has a way of disrupting – at least it feels that way from a human perspective! – our lives. Think of Mary and Elizabeth, meeting in a house somewhere in the hill country of Judea, centuries ago. Two women. One very elderly. Married and unexpectedly pregnant. The other very young. Unmarried and unexpectedly pregnant.

The old woman, Elizabeth, had every reason for despair, to have given up hope years ago. She had no children and was beyond giving birth. The young woman, Mary, had every reason to imagine a brilliant life on her own terms. Filled with dreams, yet now caught up in a scandal of God’s doing. Pregnant but not married. Feel the tension?

God does have a way of disrupting human life. How was this disruption met?

With dance and song. A leaping baby (still in the womb!) and a song which N.T. Wright eloquently reminds us has ever since been “whispered in monasteries, chanted in cathedrals, recited in small remote churches by evening candlelight, and set to music with trumpets and kettledrums by Johann Sebastian Bach” (Luke for Everyone, p. 14).

Luke 1:46-55 gives us the lyrics of the so-called “Magnificat,” which might also be called “The Song of Revolution”... or perhaps, “The Song In Praise of Disruption.” No idealism here; rather, costly hope in the God who overthrows injustice, dethrones tyranny and brings good things to those who are humble, hungry and helpless.

Elizabeth and Mary – the elderly mother and the young mother whose babies will grow to manhood, one to be beheaded and the other crucified. Disruption, dance and song. Birth, death and resurrection. What a gospel!

May this Christmas season continue to be marked by God’s disrupting presence, mercy and grace – and by dance and song.

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