As we begin the year 2018, how will we choose between the ways of Herod and the ways of God? How will we seek Jesus, where will we look for him, and how, when we encounter him, will we respond? As a guide, as our own “star from the east,” if you will, we have the Boston Declaration…
This, to the world-at-large, wasn’t big news at all. It was a small, insignificant thing, not even a blip on the radar to anybody who was somebody. Status quo, at best… and yet, the One who hung the stars was born of a woman and swaddled in cloth.
Maybe Mary is called “blessed” by all generations because she should be, because she reminds people of many cultures, times, and places of that fundamental fact that Jesus grew up to adulthood in order to drive home: God is love.
Then I remembered Mary. Mary who was frightened facing the unknown, who despite that and any reservations she had about partnering with God in bringing Christ into the world, as a co-creator with God of a more beautiful world, dared to hope and dared to sing, “My spirit rejoices.”
As someone who was young, poor, and illiterate, Mary was not among the affluent or at the center of power, but lived in a village in the backwaters of the Roman Empire. This is who God honors—the least, the marginalized, the vulnerable. This is where God locates God’s self.
If we need to reclaim anything in Mary’s story—if we can reclaim anything in a story that is not ours in the first place, but the story of a young, poor woman living in occupied territory long ago—if we can reclaim anything for Mary and for ourselves it is the freedom of her yes, the courage in her yes.
This idea of offering what it is we have in order to make the world a better place, is what it means to see the face of Christ in the face of our neighbor.
Of course it’s deeply a part of our human nature to be risk-averse. But security is not at the heart of the kingdom, Jesus says. To follow him sometimes entails taking a step outside of our comfort zones or risking life, resources, or reputation for what is right.
Many of our political leaders these days find themselves as empty-handed as the foolish bridesmaids and as stubborn as Amos’ people. They wait passively for God to sort out problems to which their actions and inactions have contributed. When tragedy strikes, they’re quick to offer “thoughts and prayers,” but slow to do anything constructive.
“Blessed” is also colored with those wonderful Hebrew Bible concepts of salvation and shalom—peace, wholeness, well-being. So you won’t get a list from Jesus on “9 Steps to Your Best Life Now” with these pronouncments. You will, however, get a sense for what life is like in the Commonwealth of God, in the coming reality of life lived under the Rule of God.