Christmas and God’s Preferential Option for the Poor

This morning while washing the dishes, I listened to Adam Hamilton’s First Sunday of Advent Sermon on The Annunciation. He begins by talking about the village of Nazareth and it’s insignificance in pre-Christian history. Quite simply put, there was nothing to it. He moves on to say it was out of this insignificant village God called an unknown peasant girl to be the mother of the Saviour of the World.

All done much better in his sermon than I am laying it out here, this leads him to say that if this is the way God chooses someone, what does this say about God’s character? Rev. Hamilton says this leaves no doubt that God is on the side of the poor. God has a preferential option for the poor of this world. God is on the side of the poor first and foremost.

It all makes sense to me. This is hardly the only place in scripture where we read of God’s favouring the poor. We are going through James in our Advent Morning Prayers at Wilpshire Methodist Church, and one can hardly think James would have been on the side of Republicans calling for the extension of tax cuts to the super rich. But it did get me thinking, how has this escaped the notice of so many (including those Christians who argue most vehemently for tax cuts for the rich)?

I thought back to the Christmas seasons when I grew up and how these events were told. I never remember anyone concluding as Rev. Hamilton has done that God is on the side of the poor. As I was taught, God chose an insignificant woman from an insignificant village and (this was where the emphasis falls) acted in an extraordinary way (i.e., the ‘virgin birth’) all to show God’s power. The main reason God did this was to show how powerful he was.

I don’t want to throw out that idea completely. I do indeed think God shows his power through the incarnation. Yet, Rev. Hamilton asks a different question, and one that needs a hearing. What does this say about God’s character? Why would God go such a round-a-bout way? Mary’s song gives us an indication.

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