Some concerns have been expressed about the appropriateness of our Make Christmas Great Again (#MCGA) Campaign in using language that echoes words of a certain world leader.
We are not unaware this danger but believe that rather than undermining our message about the really, really good news of Christmas we are continuing the ancient Christian tradition of using worldly words to undermine worldly claims to power in the light of Christ and God’s kingdom.
For instance, the primary declaration of the early Church that “Jesus Christ is Lord” was a direct challenge to the claim “Caesar is Lord.” The Christians knew that using the language of Empire was dangerous, undermining the claims of Rome, but as God had raised Jesus from the dead there was a new king in town, so to speak.
The word gospel which begins Mark’s account of Jesus, is the word used to announce the arrival of new emperor, here it becomes the good news announcing that the Son of God has come. This challenge continues in the usual New Testament word for Jesus’ return, parousia, which was used for the arrival of the Emperor in all his glory and power. The early Christians use worldly words of empire to subvert, undermine and ultimately trivialise all earthly claims of power with the reality of the coming King.
The same challenge to the fake news of worldly political power is at the heart of the Christmas stories. In Matthew, wise men come to the centre of power in Jerusalem, to King Herod, and ask ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?’ Its hard to imagine a more direct challenge to existing worldly authority than this question.
Luke reminds us that the Emperor at the time of Jesus birth was Augustus, who had monuments inscribed with “Saviour of the world.” Luke subverts this claim by pointing us to a baby born in the back of a inn in the back of beyond of whom the Angel says. “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
This is really good news of Christmas. It challenges all world leaders, all worldly words of power, and turns them around. It challenges us to turn from fake news of claims of greatness to see the stunning greatness of God with us come in humility and to serve.
So should we then use the words of worldly power to subvert and undermine its claims and challenge our own thinking? It seems to me … if the cap fits…