Do we dare dream of transformation?
We are only a couple of days before Christmas when we will meet the baby who comes to transform our lives and our world. Before we welcome Jesus, we hear again from voices on the margin.
The stories about Mary and Elizabeth, two women unlikely to be pregnant, are a break from patriarchy. The priest Zechariah is silenced and the women tell news of revolutions. Their wombs leap as they greet each other as if there is a message breaking forth. An elder and a young woman proclaim together. An elder, Elizabeth, blesses and encourages young Mary, who dares to dream. Mary sings of the justice throbbing in her heart. The woman God called to bear Emmanuel recognizes the ugliness of inequality and the brutality of oppression. To Mary, if God has looked on her, then surely God hears and cares for the voices of all. Surely there can be a better world – her song speaks of just that. Though they live in an unjust world, God comes to bring new possibilities and lifts the spirit of people who have been brought low.
This song is an echo of the voice of Hanna, a woman who gave birth to the prophet Samuel. God raised up both Samuel and Jesus to be prophets speaking against and resisting the empire in their time. Mary knew her child would bring that transformation to the world.
We are once again traveling with Mary to witness the birth of the holy child. The star, we know, lands over Bethlehem. Bethlehem lies in Palestine, a place wounded by oppression and aching once again for a new world. The ongoing Gaza crisis, the wall separating people from their land and resources, the recent UN vote on Palestinian status and the struggle for hope and peace in midst of despair are only glimpses of what our Israeli and Palestinian partners experience every day. The words of Mary’s song and the work of reconciliation are deeply nestled within their hearts.
Like Mary, we need to dream. We need to recognize that change is coming and a different world is possible. The hungry will be fed. The lowly will be lifted up. The systems of oppression will be broken. In Palestine, walls will crumble. In Canada, we will lift our voices in hope calling for justice to prevail.
Mary sang because she knew that her child would bring God’s love and justice into the world. When and how it would change, she did not know. But heart by heart, life by life, community by community, the change comes.
God, as you send your love that casts out fear, let us live in hope and work to bring that transformation and reconciliation that casts out injustice.