The Old Testament prophets spoke of a return to God. When God’s people wander away from their true calling, and forget the plight of others, they become aimless and empty, and their souls are not fed. Only God can satisfy the hungry soul, and so Gods prophets cry in the emptiness and chaos, because in their hearts is a dream which refuses to die. Isaiah speaks of a light in the darkness. It’s an everlasting promise, there will be light in the darkness for Gods people.
Against the backdrop of Roman oppression and a loveless census the angels were singing a new song. The song is in contrast with the decree. It begins with a barren old woman, Elizabeth, a dumb old man, Zechariah, Elizabeth’s young cousin Mary, and shepherds, who were not rich farmers! Those who have groaned under the oppression of the Romans, the King and the religious leaders will find they have a new freedom and the old order will soon be gone.
The old order was about laws and judgement. Just when Gods people had almost abandoned hope, the new order comes in the prophesies and songs of Elizabeth, Mary and the shepherds and is expressed in amazement because it cannot be contained in the old ways of thinking and the promises are back on the agenda.
Jesus birth begins with solidarity with ordinary people, shepherds, animals and conflict with the authorities. The old order is ending and indeed does end, but people rarely give up power peacefully. Herod’s reign was oppressive and seemed eternal but it like the Roman Empire eventually ceases.
We pray that God will be incarnated, born again in our hearts, in our lives, in our communities, in our nation and that we will see the powerful humbled and the humble exalted and a new way of being inaugurated. God with us. Immanuel.