Luke’s Gospel tells how an angel brought ‘good news’ to the shepherds, news that was good for ‘all the people.’ In those days, ‘good news’was a political word, given only by the emperor. He was the one who claimed to be God’s son and would bring peace and prosperity to the people. But here the sign to look for is a child in a manger, a child born among the animals, in occupied territory. This child was God’s true child and their true Savior. No wonder the people were all amazed and Mary had to ponder these words. How could this be true?
Yet, we know the power of vulnerability and tenderness. We have all experienced how a baby draws our attention and focuses the conversation in a room. And we know the power of tears and a kind word. There is also power which comes when those who’ve been victimized are able to speak their truth to those in authority.
Some years ago, a brave woman shared about her experience of sexual violation and its aftermath. One could have heard a pin drop, as the congregation listened intently to her reflections on life and faith. Truly, it was a powerful sermon. Others too have told their stories, what they have experienced and how they have sought healing and peace. They have used their pain to work for change, and to protect others who are vulnerable.
Of course, the world is not yet redeemed. People continue to suffer violence and abuse, and war and poverty rages unabated. Nevertheless, survivors are speaking up and challenging those who rule to change their ways. Those with little worldly power are changing history.
Howard Thurman once wrote: “The movement of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men and women often calls them to act against the spirit of their times or causes them to anticipate a spirit which is yet in the making. In a moment of dedication they are given wisdom and courage to dare a deed that challenges and to kindle a hope that inspires.”
May God give us such wisdom and courage, that we too might anticipate – and participate in -this challenging, new thing which God continues to do in the world.
I will again do amazing things with this people,
shocking and amazing….
The wisdom of the wise shall perish,
and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden.
On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll,
and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One.
For the tyrant shall be no more, and the scoffer shall cease to be:
those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit and deny justice to the one in the right.
No longer shall you be ashamed and your face grow pale,
for when you see your children, the work of God’s hands,
You will sanctify God’s name and
stand in awe before the Holy One.
Those who err in spirit will come to understanding,
and those who grumble will accept instruction.
– Based on Isaiah 29:14-24
By Linda Gehman Peachey, Women’s Advocacy Director, December 2010.