Now, well into a tyrannical reign- the right amount of “well into” for the beginning to feel immeasurably long ago, and the end equally far off- when power was centralised far off on another continent, there was a puppet ruler of this place to whom regional loyalties meant diddly squat. (One might substitute ‘In the umpteenth year of the supremacy of transnational corporations, there was a democratically elected government which furthered the interests primarily not of the people in their care but of said TNCs). In that time, power and privilege felt unshakeable, and there was surely no way that a bunch of illiterate landworkers and fishermen could make the slightest bit of difference to the impenetrable armour of money and racial prejudice. In that time, there was a religious centre to match the political one, a religious hierarchy to match the political one, and everyone else from everywhere else could go do one.
And the word of God came to none of them.
“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
The word of God came to the middle of nowhere. And from thence it changed the world.
(I remind myself of this as a country-bumpkin job-hunter, disenchanted with how all career-roads lead to London. There lies concentrated all the noise, and hot air, and hurried paces, and cold stares, and pickpockets (we’ll always have platform 15 at Victoria)… and all the organisations that I would give my eye-teeth to work for.)
Praise be to the God who subverts regional and socioeconomic inequalities, and raises workers not through perpetuating privilege, but from seeds, soil and the Sea of Galilee.