In the sixth month of her sister’s pregnancy, Mary’s life changed. Isn’t that an interesting way to begin the story? Luke doesn’t tell us that Mary’s life was forever altered and, “oh, by the way, this happened while her sister was also pregnant.” No, Mary’s journey begins within a larger story (the one of Zechariah and Elizabeth), one that isn’t hers at all. Mary’s encounter with God’s messenger begins almost as an afterthought to some other divine grand design. What does this mean? Within the context of someone else’s miracle, the angel greets Mary and tells her who she is. The messenger is saying, “I know who you are and you are different from other people.” And most importantly, being different is ok. Mary is an ordinary girl with an ordinary problem. But that’s where there the difference comes into play because it’s in and with the ordinary where God works.
The thing is, we rarely, if ever, talk about Advent and Christmas in terms of an “ordinary” event. We may throw in terms “ordinary” to describe the stable, manger, or donkey. Ordinary is reserved for inanimate objects and stupid animals. In the mythology we’ve created around Christmas, we’ve created a world where everything was extraordinary. Choirs of angels, perceptive but startled shepherds, and misplaced wise men all testify to the extraordinary nature of that night. Is this because scripture says so? Or is it because we’ve written the script?
It’s widely believed the North Korean government was involved in the hacking of Sony Pictures to retaliate for their film, “The Interview”. The plot, which deals with an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un, has understandably infuriated the regime. It’s got me thinking; what does God think of all the movies, programs, plays and scripts we churn out each year which purport to tell the story of Christmas? Sometimes I think if God could hack our emails and embarrass us for making crummy movies and plays about Jesus, we might do a better job at telling the story and getting the facts right. We like to do our version of “big budget” productions. Even though we have supreme confidence in our ability to tell the Christmas story, are we accurately telling the story? Are we telling a story, when compared to reality, which might be considered offensive to the main characters or characters because it makes them appear as something they are not?