The Nativity Scene and the Powerless

important people cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

Description: The nativity scene with animals, foreigners, baby, straw, nobodies, unclean, and shit.


I love the Christmas story. Many of you do too.

What strikes me most is the complete absence of important people around the birth of Jesus. No political or religious leaders were present. No influencers were there.

They were strategically omitted from the story except as antagonists and adversaries.

Those present were rejected, scandalized, marginalized, foreign, and disenfranchised people in a humble setting.

The powerless!

I think the gospel writers wrote in a way that depicts the ultimate impotency of those in power and predicted their eventual downfall.

It started with Mary's proclamation that he would bring down the mighty and lift up the lowly.

And it is first manifested at his birth.

A short personal story that convinced me even more that the way this story is conveyed is important. Years ago I preached a Christmas sermon along these lines, even using our personal rough-hewn plain wooden nativity scene as an illustration. The sermon upset people. What people? Those who were important people in that community. They felt my sermon was a personal attack on them and gave unwarranted credit to the marginalized of the community. They said that those they considered respectable should be respected, and those who weren't respectable earned it. They chalked it up to me being youth and naïveté.

Yes, the authorities have the power and seem to run things. But this story undermines that assumption, that assertion, and reveals that the real story is found among the powerless.

The deeper theme of the gospel story is that the kenosis, the self-emptying, the humiliation, the complete incarnation in weakness, is how true transformation is accomplished.

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