It’s the time of year when Washington, D.C., sits largely quiet and empty, its inhabitants emptied out and headed home to their families. The politicians head home and even the most rabid partisans seek to escape the messiness of politics.
Yet the real story of Christmas is inescapably political. The young virgin who bore Jesus understood what her miraculous conception meant. She listened to the words of Simeon in the temple as he cradled the newborn in his arms. Jesus would, “be a sign that will be opposed—and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2:34-35).” The incarnation, then, is more than mere sentimental Hallmark vibes, but a cosmic disruption, an intervention by God into His creation.
Even as Christmas is inescapably political, our politics should be inescapably oriented around Christmas. If what Christians believe about the incarnation is true, then that truth must necessarily shape our public theology. The ethicist Oliver O’Donovan rightly asserts that “the whole created order is taken up into the fate of this particular representative man at this particular moment of history, on whose one fate turns the redemption of all … the sign that God has stood by his created order.”
This otherwise ordinary birth by a peasant couple in a filthy grotto in a backwater town of the Roman empire is the hinge point of history. In her prayer, Mary says that her Son “has done a mighty deed with His arm; He has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly” (Luke 1:51-52). This miraculous birth has both cosmic and personal implications.
Daniel Darling is an author, pastor and Christian leader. Prior to his leadership of the Land Center and faculty role at Texas Baptist College, Darling served as the Senior Vice President for Communications of the National Religious Broadcasters. He also has served the Southern Baptist Convention as the Vice President of Communications at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Dan is a bestselling author of several books, including The Original Jesus, The Dignity Revolution, The Characters of Christmas, The Characters of Easter and A Way With Words. He is the general editor, along with Trillia Newbell, of a small group study on racial reconciliation, The Church and the Racial Divide and is a contributor to The Worldview Study Bible.