This season of Advent is a season of preparation for Christmas.
We need preparation because Christmas is a direct challenge to the way of thinking that dominates our world. We call this dominant ideology “imperial thinking,” patterns of thinking that emphasize hierarchies and coercive power. It is no accident that the Christmas stories all share how challenging the birth of Jesus was to the kings and empires of his time. He was not born in a royal palace and laid in a silk lined crib, but born in a stable and laid in a manger. He was not born to royal parents but to homeless ones, refugees and migrants.
When the Christmas stories speak of Jesus as Lord, Saviour, Son of God, Light of the World it is because those phrases that were all originally used for the Roman Emperors. In saying that Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Saviour, Jesus is Son of God and Light of the World, the Christmas stories are explicitly saying that the Emperor is not Lord, not Saviour, not the Son of God, not the Light of the World. God’s way is not the way of empire.
Likewise, today, it is no accident that we have to constantly struggle to discover the “real meaning of Christmas,” in a season dominated by commercial, consumer images, images that enforce and perpetuate imperial thinking. We have to prepare by changing our minds, changing our way of thinking.