The Christmas story is such a good example of God's preference for the weak things of this world, the lowly and the despised things - and the things that are not. Choosing a teenage girl to start a revolution. A stable and a few shepherds to stage the event.
The birth account reminds me that God's grand redemption plan starts in the way it continues - in surrendered hearts. Engaging friends in low places, so to speak, and opening up a new future.
History is no longer written by the victors. Mary's song, one of the most beautiful hymns resonating through time, is the written proof. Her poetic outburst echoes ancient prophetic promises that give her a lens for the present and future in the light of God's desire to make all things new. The kind of God she is praying to is the One who lifts the lowly, chooses the humble and fills the hungry with good things. The One who sees her.
Centuries later, the slaves sing their spirituals - subversive emancipation songs about their hope for deliverance. Hope rooted in the faith that He will overcome. Centuries later, writing from prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer helps us to see the great events in history "from beneath - from the viewpoint of the useless, the suspect, the abused, the powerless, the oppressed, the despised". The most beautiful lyrical and theological reflections uttered by the despised. History written by the lowly.
Decades later, it anchors my faith. It cleanses my lens when it gets blurred. For, at times, history seems to be written by the powerful. The future seems annulled for the weak. Yet, when I listen to Mary's song I hear her joy that God is mindful of the humble. When I hum the spirituals my faith is strengthened for He has done mighty things. When I read Bonhoeffer I detect riches stored in secret places and treasures in the hidden. He has scattered the proud and brought down rulers.
When we provide night shelter for the destitute in Manchester, He extends mercy to the lowly. Each year, Christmas reminds me of the subversive way God exercises power. This child born to us - this Son given to us - is a lavish gift of the incomparable riches of God's grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).
Jesus faithfully fulfills Mary's song. The apostle Paul insightfully sketches how the line of the new humanity that started in Christ continues to profoundly shape us: God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son (Romans 8:29).
The revolution won't be televised. It's taking place under the radar in ordinary people living extraordinary lives, shaped by grace and full of mercy, in surrender to Him. It's called worship. To me the Christmas story is historically beautiful and ongoingly relevant.
Marijke Hoek is co-editor of Carnival Kingdom and Micah's Challenge