This blog post is part of my year-long series of posts on the New Testament. My church is on a year-long journey called Project 3:45, where we are reading the New Testament together this year. To join in, click here.
Last week, Amanda and the boys came to pick me up from work for a surprise trip to Sonic for happy hour. When I got in the van, they were blasting Christmas carols. In the middle of April. It struck anybody who was listening as a bit odd to say the least. The first Christmas carol ever sung (or at least the first one recorded in the Bible) was sung by Mary after the angel visited her to tell her she was going to have a baby. Reading it again this week, it struck me as a bit odd to say the least. Here are some of the words:
He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed. (Luke 1:50-53)
This is one messed up Christmas carol! This is not at all what Christmas is about. Christmas is about making a list of all the things that I want and sweaters and parties and caroling and eggnog and snow and sledding. Didn’t Mary know that?
These words don’t really fit into the context of how we experience Christmas these days, do they? This does not sound like a joyous, fa la la la la type of song. This actually sounds a bit more like “Occupy Nazareth” to me: pulling the powerful from their thrones, lifting up the lowly, filling the hungry, and sending away the rich empty-handed. Is this what Jesus came to do? Is this what Jesus’ kingdom is about?
A poor, Jewish man from a small town in an insignificant part of the Roman Empire becoming the king of kings? Standing up for the oppressed, remembering the forgotten, feeding the hungry, empowering the powerless, giving voice to the voiceless instead of shopping the day after Thanksgiving to buy me things from my list?
Well that’s different, huh? Either I need to change the way I do Christmas or maybe I can just ignore this song that Mary sings. I mean, it doesn’t even rhyme and would be hard to put to a catchy tune, so maybe that would just be easier. To completely change the way I think of Christmas and the way I live my life might strike people as a bit odd, to say the least.