I was leading a school assembly last week. It’s the first time I’ve visited the school and I was excited to have been invited to lead a Christmas themed assembly for Key Stage 2 (age 7-11). Thought slightly less excited to get a call the night before to say that Ofstead would be around!)
We retold the Christmas story, with some help from a few of our many nativity sets, including my new inflatable one pictured below!
As we began the story in Nazareth with Mary, I was struck that some of those in the room were age 11, and therefore probably not far off the age Mary may well have been when the angel appeared to her – probably in what we’d now call her early teens.
I then think of my eldest daughter, aged 8, and a friends daughter now aged 12, and can’t imagine the idea of them having children yet! To us today, in our 21st Century, Western society, the Christmas story is indeed one of unexpected turns and subversive moves of God.
But yet – despite Mary’s youth, God trust her and gives her the crucial task of both bearing the child – and nurturing them after they were born. it is part of the subversive nature of the Christmas story that by coming as a vulnerable babe, God must call on a woman – not a man – to bring the Son of God to birth. We do ourselves a disservice if we neglect to remember that despite the fact scripture talks about a lot of men – there are also stories in scripture of God calling and working through non-men too! mary, Ruth, Rahab, Deborah, Rebekah, Lydia, Susanna, Esther…
The Advent & Christmas story is filled with stories of God working in and through people that others would overlook, despite gender, age, race, ethnicity… yet in human society we are somewhat obsessed with these labels and categories… always needing to put people into binary boxes, male or Female, Brexiter or Remainer, Black or White…
But the just as God moves against the tide of human society in calling a young woman to bear the Christ-child – so too I believe God does not see the labels and categories we create. God sees people as people, made in God’s image – all loved and valued.
Let us not overlook others because of who they are or how they identify, and let us not be governed by humanly created labels and categories – because in God’s story, there is room for all.