A DANGEROUSLY SUBVERSIVE CHRISTMAS SONG
Did you know that one passage of the New Testament has been regarded as so subversive and dangerous that it’s been banned by governments on three occasions in three different countries?
Here is this dangerously subversive passage tyrannically regimes wanted to silence
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of the Almighty’s servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is God’s name.
God’s mercy is for those who fear God
from generation to generation.
God has shown strength with God’s arm;
God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
God has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
God has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
God has helped servant Israel,
in remembrance of God’s mercy,
according to the promise God made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever. Luke 1:46-55
This song from Mary, often called the Magnificat, was banned from being sung or read in India under British rule. Then in the 1980s, it was banned again, this time by the authoritarian rulers in Guatemala. In Argentina, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo— women whose children had disappeared during that country’s so-called Dirty War (1976-1983)—placed the Magnificat’s words on posters throughout the capital plaza, in response the military junta outlawed any public display of Mary’s song.
Who knew the words of a probably poor teenage girl could be seen as so dangerous by powerful men? But they were right to be afraid.
Long before the protest songs of the Vietnam era in the US, Mary released this protest song. Mary is saying a revolution, God’s revolutionary Kingdom, is coming. She rejoices that through the child to be born to her the wrongs of this world will ultimately and finally be righted and injustices ended. The rich, the proud, the gluttonous, and the powerful would be brought down while the poor, the humble, and the hungry would be raised up.
Krish Kandiah writes about this revolutionary song
“Christmas gives us so many songs to sing. Songs of celebration, of peace, of joy. But how often do we sing Mary’s revolution song? Christmas gives us a hope that things are going to be different. Christmas disrupts everything – not just our own souls, but the whole world. It introduces the melody of the world to come and invites us to sing it out now. Christmas calls us to join the revolution of all things and to model in our lives the strange new order that God is bringing.”
Its that last line that really struck me that Mary’s song calls on us “to model in our lives the strange new order that God is bringing”
Mary’s song calls on us as God’s people, citizens of his revolutionary Kingdom, to stand up against injustice and for the exploited, to be committed to ending the rule of tyrants and improving the lives of the downtrodden.
No wonder they banned it!
The church should live out the values of Mary’s protest song all year round rather than read it just at Christmas, so that more of the world’s despots, exploiters, and oppressors want to ban it.