Author: Rev. Bill McCartney
We often describe God as AMAZING. At Christmas we come face to face with the reality that ours is also an AUDACIOUS God. Note the various audacious, “off the wall”elements in the story. Those elements dare to turn our world upside down.
All elements of the Christmas story fall outside the norm, are counter-intuitive.
- The child is to be born in an insignificant village,
- to a peasant couple,
- In conditions of privation,
- and visited by two quite opposite groups – lowly shepherds and regal kings.
Most audacious is God’s vision for a new realm the baby Jesus will bring. It’s defined in Mary’s profound and powerful prayer when she learned she’d be Jesus’ mother. It’s especially sobering to realize that God’s audacious vision is yet to be fulfilled in our lives or world. Listen to key phrase in Mary’s Magnificat:
“He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich empty away.” (Luke 1:46-55)
Clearly God’s new realm, through Jesus, is to bring a new order of justice, a new balance of wealth in our world. That suggestion is so contrary to society’s current value systems we’re tempted to say, “How dare God be so audacious?”
God’s audacious vision does set us back on our heels. Of course,God could be exaggerating a bit to make a point. If so, at the least, God is audacious enough to ask us, to dare us to take stock of ourselves and our society in the context of today’s value systems. God is audacious enough to challenge us with these questions:
- Do our personal lives reflect a commitment to God’s goals expressed in Mary’s song?
- To what extent is our society one in which power and wealth become so important that the God-given value invested in the poor, the marginalized is ignored and/or denied?
- Is our society(or nation) moving toward God’s goals? Or are we moving in the opposite direction?
The Christian life is more than a variety of spiritual goals. Rather, Christian discipleship is our journey toward the goals expressed in Scripture. God is audacious enough to want us to try. After all, Jesus’ life and ministry began audaciously, as the newborn of peasants who wrapped him in swaddling clothes and cradled him in a manger.
Christmas is not just a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s a time to resolve that God’s new realm can be born in us – and in all around us!
How audacious are you willing to be?
Rev. Bill McCartney, retired, East Ohio Conference.
He has served as a delegate to multiple General Conferences. His daughter Karen Oehl is currently an alternate clergy delegate for East Ohio to the upcoming special session.