By Trudy Wischemann
I was blessed this past Sunday by being given the opportunity to preach at Lindsay’s Methodist Church. One of the lectionary scriptures was Mary’s Song from Luke’s gospel, so I chose it for the sermon. There’s nothing quite like Luke for a good dose of Christmas.
Over the week, while I contemplated and researched the scripture’s meaning, the impeachment hearings were being broadcast live on NPR. I dipped into and out of them while I drove, ate and cleaned up the kitchen. What I heard was not debate, but a boxing match where each side tried to knock the other senseless with their version of the story, and no umpire to cry foul or end the battle before both sides were lying bloody on the floor. Did you get splattered, too?
Truth would have been the umpire, but it was knocked out of the ring when Donald Trump was elected president. Donald Trump is like the Roman Empire in Mary’s day. What the Emperor says is true is true because he says it, not because it’s true. And anyone who wants to contest that truth with another version is risking life and limb.
So here’s another story for you. God sends his angel Gabriel to announce to this teenaged peasant girl in an Israeli village known for its poverty that she’s been selected to receive His child, who will be known as the Son of the Most High, the Son of God. She’s betrothed to another peasant in her village, a carpenter by trade, and this premature pregnancy could turn her life in this world completely worthless, make her a beggar or worse. But she believes Gabriel, goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth in a distant village, and is greeted joyously by the soon-to-be mother of John the Baptist, who will prepare the way for Mary’s child by making disciples of peasants in the dusty hill country and baptizing them in the River Jordan, and then stepping aside for the real King of Kings, the Prince of Peace.
You will notice, I hope, that none of this happens in Jerusalem or any of the other cities in Judah (not even Bethlehem), not in the temple, the synagogues, or even the village prayer spaces. It happens somewhere in the countryside, in the “undeveloped” regions of Judea, beyond the reach or concern of the Jewish leaders and Roman centurions. Nazareth could have been Tonyville; John’s baptizing territory could have been Tulare Lake.
Elizabeth is the only one on the planet who seems to know what’s happened to Mary, so when she greets her younger cousin with acknowledgment, a song erupts from Mary that starts in praise for Him who blessed her and ends in prophecy of a great overturning of the ways of the world. Rulers will tumble from their thrones, the rich will be sent away empty, even thinking proud thoughts silently will get you scattered to the four winds. The humble will be lifted up, the hungry will be filled, and God’s chosen people will be safe at last, forever. And that’s why Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger: to show which side He’s on.
So we wait, as we count the days to Christmas, for something we don’t know much about but hope for anyway. Every year. We wait for the great overturning, the mending of our ways. For peace to enter our hearts and minds, our relationships, our towns, our country, the world.
It can’t come too soon.
Trudy Wischemann is a writer who could be scattered to the four winds any day now. You can send her your Christmas hopes c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.