Certainly the gospel story shatters the dominant culture’s system of lauding wealth & power, as the reviled shepherds and outsider gentile astrologers are embraced at the baby Jesus side. We KNOW that almost all the shepherds were of a poor class working for absentee landlords, often as endentured labour. We know they were regarded by society like gypsies are regarded in Europe – as thieves and liars. They were legally not allowed to give evidence in court as regarded as unworthy witness. This is why Jesus emphasized “I am the GOOD shepherd” because they would think badly of a shepherd story in general. Shepherds were simply not seen as “good”. Further, he spoke of the “hireling” shepherd (a labourer working for the owner of the land & sheep) because that was the standard situation. The hireling would flee at the sight of the wolf because he had no investment in the sheep he was watching. As respects the “wise persons” of course the Godless Herod would cowtow with any wealthy foreigners as he was a ruthless conniving political manipulator, but for the Jewish community they would be utter outcasts as Gentiles. As astrologers they would further be religious outcasts as the OT prophets consistently condemned all forms of astrology in extreme terms.
Of course the story sinks al class distinctions INCLUDING the current popular AGEISM that some of my “Emerging Church” mates are into. A teenage couple introduce the baby Jesus. An elderly couple give birth to the prophet John the Baptist to go before the Saviour. An elderly Priest, at the end of his career receives the prophetic word.
While sexism & racism and economic status have all been challenged in recent times, ageism is radically and foolishly embraced by the culture, and as the Church is often a belated reflection of the dominant sociology of the day, she has joined the folly. When I was in my twenties, the wise ones who informed my radical ministry were the great older saints like my Father, Sir Alan Walker and many other experienced saints.
Gen X, Gen Y etc obsession have no place in the non-ageist story of our Lord’s coming with the inclusion of young, old and non-defined as the inner circle. As the story begins thus, so Jesus departs leaving the prophesy at the eve of Pentecost that when the Spirit falls upon them the YOUNG men and women would see visions & the OLD men and women would dream together with the young. If the church marries itself to one generation (baby-boosters, post-war baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen whatever) it will soon be a widow in the next.
The gospel denies the false valuation of any person on the basis of race, sex, age or any other popular category. It is unbiblical & tragic that some mega-churches have dismissed opportunities to have great performers and saints such as Barry McGuire on the basis they have a “youth emphasis” & don’t want performers over 40 etc. We are tribal creatures that should embrace all ages in a healthy connection between generations. If we don’t our theology and understanding of salvation history will be sadly confused and ignorant. Every generation has it’s weaknesses, follies, self-driven distortions and insights as well. We need to hold hands across all artificial and short-sighted divides.