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Mikhail Prokhorov and Christmas

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov (R) shakes hands with New Jersey Nets player Devin Harris, as head coach Avery Johnson (C) watches, during an open training session in Moscow, October 10, 2010. The basketball team, owned by Prokhorov, arrived in Moscow to take part in a masterclass session to demonstrate their skills and talk about their experiences to fans, local media reported. (Credit: Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva)

A Russian tycoon nicknamed “the Giraffe” is leading the headlines this morning.  Businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, known for his height and long neck, has announced plans to run against Vladimir Putin in next March’s elections in Russia.  He made his fortune, estimated at $18 billion, from gold and nickel mining and other interests.  Forbes ranks him the third richest man in Russia.

Prokhorov came to America’s attention in 2009 when he announced plans to buy the NBA’s New Jersey Nets.  “America, I come in peace,” he said to U.S. journalists.  He joins the ranks of wealthy businessmen who seek to parlay their resources into public office (think Donald Trump and Herman Cain).

Contrast this trend with the Occupy Movement marching this morning on West Coast ports.  A growing number of Americans feel left out of our politics and victimized by our economy.  Could Abraham Lincoln be elected president today?  Could you?

The Jewish people taught their daughters to pray every night that they might be chosen to be the mother of the Messiah.  Everyone assumed, however, that this great honor would be bestowed on a daughter of the high priest or someone else of great status.  Meanwhile, a peasant teenage girl was living in a town so tiny it’s not mentioned even once in the Old Testament.  The angel Gabriel announced to her great shock that she would be the mother of “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32).

Mary would risk her marriage and even her life if she accepted this calling. Nonetheless, she chose to say, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said” (v. 38).  She would later testify, “From now on all generations will call me blessed” (v. 48).  And she was right.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the great theologians of the 20th century.  Arrested for his role in plotting the assassination of Adolf Hitler, he was hanged on April 9, 1945, just days before Allied armies liberated his prison camp.

In his Advent sermon of December 17, 1933, reflecting on the faith and submission of Mary, Bonhoeffer unknowingly spoke of his own future: “He loves the lost, the forgotten, the insignificant, the outcasts, the weak, and the broken.  Where men say, ‘lost,’ he says ‘found’; where men say, ‘condemned,’ he says ‘redeemed’; where men say ‘no,’ he says ‘yes.’  Where men look with indifference or superiority, he looks with burning love, such as nowhere else is to be found.  Where men say, ‘contemptible!,’ God cries, ‘blessed.'”

Christmas means that Almighty God can do eternal things with anyone who is submitted to him.  Mary was courageous enough to say, “I am the Lord’s servant.”  Am I?  Are you?