Ordinary People; Extraordinary Events

We started with listening to "Cry of a Tiny Babe" by Bruce Cockburn.

Marilyn highlighted the fact that, contrary to our intuitive sense of what is right and true, God comes to us through unlikely people and circumstances. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is perhaps the supreme example. Young, unmarried, an unknown from a peasant village in a forgotten part of the Empire, Mary is asked to give birth to and mother the very Son of God, and she accepts humbly!

Using N.T. Wright's reflections as a source, the birth of Jesus to a Virgin is one of, if not the ultimate creative acts in history. The God Within and the God Without mysteriously come together to make something new, the beginning of a new Creation, a new Humanity. Here the feminine and the masculine beautifully come together. This pro-creational capacity in God reflects the Creation Story where God hovers over the water in Genesis. Jesus' birth, as narrated in Luke chapter 2, is truly a Creation story, echoing God's original creative impulse. But now, since humans have hopelessly fallen into our sinful natures, God authors a different, particular kind of creation, perfectly suited for the context.

What seems very evident is that God creatively responds all the time to our fallen human responses to life. God takes what comes. He takes up our oppression, sin and passivity of all kinds, and finds new ways to redeem humanity, reconciling us, more importantly the whole world, back to our original intention. This is what the Birth of Christ is for. In this perspective, the drama is even greater, the gratitude even deeper, the Love shown even more incredible, than if humanity had responded perfectly from the Garden of Eden onwards. As Augustine remarked about this narrative structure, "O happy fault!"

Other redactional parallels were found. The cynical Zechariah's Spirit-enforced silence mysteriously parallels the prophetic silence of the 400-year inter-testamental period. Luke no doubt is preparing the way for the Old Testament-like prophetic vocation of John the Baptist as an adult. And John is preparing the way for someone even greater, Jesus the Christ!

We also saw the pivotal Jesus-like birth scene in the current film "Children of Men" where in a futuristic, apocalyptic civil war, a character named Theo helps a character named Kee bring to birth the only child in civilization, its only remaining hope for the future. We were reminded that Jesus' birth had similar elements. It was a time of political upheaval that instilled fear into the hearts of all men and women. A special birth was about to happen yet it occurred at the very margins of society. And, whether people were aware of it or not, a lot of promise was riding on this new child.

How will we treat this new child who promised profound accompaniment, radical forgiveness and a relationship with our very God?

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