Three Christmas Meditations, 2019: #2, Political

Politics is about how human beings distribute power, and any engagement with the Christmas story that avoids the political is highly political.

Attempts to avoid the political comply with the political conspiracy of silence that upholds the politically powerful in their political power, and simultaneously suppresses the politically powerless in their political oppression. Just as “not to decide is to decide,” not to be political is to be political.

The political dimension of Christmas is not the only dimension, but it is an essential, unavoidable dimension. Just listen to Mary:

Luke 1: 46 ff

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”


The only way to not see the political dimensions of Mary’s words is to have been indoctrinated for years (by political interests) not to see them. Consider the heart of her message:

God is exercising God’s might (power) on behalf of a lowly person.

God is exercising God’s strength (power) to scatter the proud … to bring down the powerful from their political thrones … to lift up the lowly … to fill the hungry (those excluded from the economy) with good things … to send the rich away hungry.

This, for Mary, is entirely consistent with God’s character from the very beginning, from the calling of Abraham to leave empire and become an exile, a homeless wanderer, promising blessing outside of the normal protocols of wealth and power.

Those themes continue through the Christmas story. Even familiar words like savior, Christ, and Lord — as in “Unto us is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, that is Christ, the Lord” — are powerfully political words, meaning liberator or liberating king.


Two images came up in my Twitter feed this week that I share as icons for meditation. Yes, they are political. Of course they are. Because Christmas is. Thanks to Banksy for the first work of art (, and thanks to @KLICONS for the second (

I invite you to join me in simply observing these images and open our hearts to their message. Remember that both opening and closing our hearts is a political as well as personal act.