Later On, We'll Conspire
Reclaiming the world-changing and life-giving power of Christmas
There's something subversive about Christmas. To subvert something is to overthrow it, usually by indirect means. Subversion isn't a frontal assault; it's a stealth campaign. The prefix, sub, means "from below" and -vert comes from the Latin for "to turn." So to subvert something is to turn it from below; in other words, to turn it upside down.
Think about one of the most famous Christmas stories of all, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The rich and powerful Scrooge is brought to his knees by Christmas ghosts, while the poor and lowly Bob Cratchit rises above his circumstances to find true joy.
How about Rudolph? The poor little misfit can't even join the reindeer games, let alone hope to earn a place on Santa's team. But an unexpected storm turns his dis-ability into an asset, and he becomes the hero.
How about the folks down in Whoville? The Grinch thinks he's ruined their Christmas by stealing their stockings and stuffing. But they turn the tables on him and wake up singing anyway. Next thing you know, the Grinch is carving the roast beast.
And how about good old Charlie Brown? Everyone tells him he has to have a big, brassy tree and a flashy Christmas pageant. But he refuses to go along. He buys the saddest tree that money can buy. And with a little help from Linus and Luke chapter 2, he discovers the true meaning of Christmas!
There's something subversive about Christmas. It overthrows the established order. It turns things upside down. But we shouldn't be surprised at that. It's always been that way. As we're going to discover today, the birth of Jesus Christ was the most subversive act in human history.
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Bryan Wilkerson is pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts.