Christmas is a pretty revolutionary time of the year if you can manage to wade through all the tinsel and baubles, if you can not loose your head charging around your local shopping centre looking for gifts and not wanting to shout at people who are standing in the way of your progress.
1) I come from a tradition (reformed, evangelical) where God speaks primarily through The Bible and where God speaking through something like dreams would be treated with suspicion. When you read the Christmas story in the Gospels there is God speaking through dreams, and angels and even a star. There is lots of other times in the Bible when God speaks through the dreams or visions. So perhaps there is something in the Christmas story that makes me wonder if I have grown up in a tradition that was/is a little bit too sceptical of God speaking through ways other than the Bible?
2) I also come from a tradition that puts a lot of emphasis on bringing up children within a good Christian marriage. I’ve heard this a lot over the last few years with regard to whether a man should be allowed to marry another man, or woman should be allowed to marry another woman.
So it is interesting (well at least to me) that Jesus wasn’t born into a family where everything was perfectly set up. Are people in that community is really going to believe that Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Joseph loved her and he knew it wasn’t him that got Mary pregnant until he had a dream that it was the Holy Spirit. Are people in the village going to believe that the Holy Spirit got Mary pregnant? I doubt it. I think that there are going to be whispering voices behind their back and pointing fingers. Jesus himself wasn’t married when he is older and he wasn’t conceived within the traditional Christian marriage.
3) Jesus was a refugee, or asylum seeker having to flee to Egypt for his life. Again that is another case when Jesus, Mary and Joseph were far from the happily settled version of what we are often told is a good Christian family bringing up their child in a nice house.
So much suffering at Christmas for families as well with the murder of the children at the hands of Herod. Of course there is joy at Christmas with angels singing on the hillsides, but there is darkness there.
4) There is surveillance and spying, people trying to hold on to power in the Christmas story. Caesar is conducting a census while Herod tries to get the Magi to spy on the new king and bring back information so that he can kill him. He gets his experts in to see if they can track down this new king.
In this year when there has been so much talk about on line surveillance it reminded me that people in power will do anything to cling to power. Yet Christmas and the upside down Kingdom (which is really the right way up kingdom) is about the opposite. It’s about power being freely given up instead of trying to grab more power and control. Perhaps we also need to not give the Herod’s of this world more power if we can help it, avoid them and go home a different way when they try to grab more power?
‘Let Christ himself be your example as to what your attitude should be. For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man. And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal.’