What Hath Bethlehem to Do with Washington?

What Hath Bethlehem to Do with Washington?

Both the cosmic and personal nature of Christmas both motivates and tempers our politics. Empowered by the Spirit, we love our neighbors by upholding the creational truths Jesus’ birth affirms. Yet our activism is tempered by the reality of what we can actually accomplish in a cosmos still groaning for redemption. Only Jesus can bless “far as the curse is found.”

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.”

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