December 10, 2010

Jesus’ Mom was a Punk.

A punk rock band should do a song based on Mary’s “Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55).

Knocked-up, teen-aged Mary was the first punk singer and the first rock & roller. When she learned that she would bear the Christ-child, she sang a song. It was a song of praise. And it was a song of protest and rebellion. She celebrates that God is about to do something new in the world.

She was celebrating that God was about to turn the world upside-down, knock the wealthy oppressors off their pedestals, lift up those who’ve been oppressed, and usher-in a new reign of social justice and reconciliation.

Here are the words to that song:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

After her son Jesus grew up and got baptized by his prophetic (and somewhat nutty) cousin John, he went back to visit the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth and fulfilled what his mother had sung about 30 years before

…He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(referring to The Year of Jubilee which involved the redistribution of wealth and property, see: Isaiah 61:1,2 and Leviticus 25)

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)

Jesus and his message were so radical that he nearly got thrown off of a cliff immediately afterward (Luke 4:29).  Frankly, Jesus is lucky to have squeezed in 3 years of truth-telling and ministry before he was finally nailed to a cross.

Mary is sometimes referred to as “Theotokos” – the “mother of God.”   I submit that Mary is also “Punkotokos” – mother of all rebels with a cause.  I could elaborate about “this cause” that we’re invited to be a part of.   But I don’t feel like preaching.  Suffice it to say it has something to do with loving enemies, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, tending to the sick, visiting those in prison (Matthew 25:35-36), and proclaiming that a counter-cultural peasant (who taught assertive non-violent resistance and was executed) is Lord – and that Caesar (a euphemism for the worldly powers that be) isn’t.  As AC/DC put it, “For those about to rock, we salute you!” Whether or not you consider yourself a Christian –  Let’s rock people.

Oi! Amen?

Interesting not-so-side-note: In the New Testament Mary’s real name is Miriam which means “their rebellion.” (English versions of the Bible simply transliterate it as “Mary.”) Miriam is a seriously ROCKIN’ name! : D



From Elephant: If you would like to hear this columnist preaching at the chapel he is the pastor of (and learn about his new book) click here:

It’s a sermon that was part of a recent worship service held at Wesley Chapel in Boulder, CO.  That service featured their Mosaic Gospel Choir.  If you’d like to hear them, click here.

Roger is an ordained United Methodist pastor and the author of Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity

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