Upsetting the Fruit Basket
When I was in early elementary school, my minister parents were responsible for the youth group (along with almost every other program) in the church they were serving. I was an only child, so they took me along to youth group meetings rather than leave me at home. After all, anyone who might babysit me would be at church. I got to play the games and do many of the other activities the teenagers participated in even though I was much too young.
One game we played was called “Upset the Fruit Basket.” We were divided into two teams, one standing on each side of the fellowship hall. We were all assigned the names of fruits, one person from each team with the same name: two apples, one on each team; two oranges, one on each team—you get it.
In the middle of the room was an object, something easily grabbed and picked up. My father would call out a fruit: “Pear!” and the two people who were pears would run out, try to grab the object, and get it back to their side before being tagged by their opposite number on the other team. Sometimes Dad would call out two fruits just to make it interesting. Once or twice a night he’d say “Upset the fruit basket!” and everyone from each team would rush to the center. It was a complete free-for-all. That’s what made it fun.
Everything about Jesus’ birth upset the fruit basket. The whole sequence of events turned society upside down. There is no doubt that God intended it that way, and made sure that’s what happened.
The angel Gabriel bypassed the king’s palace and the homes of all the rich citizens of Judah, and instead visited a young girl from the working class who wasn’t yet married. Gabriel told Mary that she was pregnant even though she was a virgin—and completely sure of her virginity. Mary’s betrothed, the carpenter Joseph, had every right to break the agreement he had made with her family, but God made sure that didn’t happen.
It sounds as if Mary’s family might have had some doubts about her innocence. Luke tells us she went into the hill country to visit her older cousin Elizabeth, and she went “with haste.” It’s just possible Mary’s family decided she ought to leave town for a while to save both her reputation and theirs.
Whether or not that is true, Elizabeth, pregnant herself (and quite old to be having her first child), greeted the young mother-to-be with joy, and so did the infant she was carrying. Luke says the baby “leaped in her womb” at the sound of Mary’s voice.
Mary was so excited at this that she broke into song. Her song, called “The Magnificat” because of the opening words in Latin (Magnificat anima mea—“My soul magnifies the Lord”) is another example of upsetting the fruit basket. Listen to some of her words. God has:
“looked on the humble estate of his servant.”
“scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;”
“brought down the mighty from their thrones;”
“filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.”
When we read these words we should have no doubt that God takes a special interest in the poor, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden—as should we. God’s intent in sending Jesus was to upset the fruit basket. That’s our mission, too.