Monday, December 21, 2009

Tis the Season

Tis the Season
This time of year we are hearing the story of Jesus’ birth everywhere we turn. It is told sweetly, portrayed by our children in their bathrobes, and if we are really adventurous we might even parade a few live animals into the church. It is good that we remember, but I have to wonder if we ever look beyond the pretty pageants and cantatas to remember the story as Luke told it.

Luke opens the Nativity story in chapter two with the words, “In those days.” An announcement to his readers that something significant was about to happen, a sacred point in time that would give meaning to everything that would follow. It was a key phrase in Jewish writing, requiring no explanation and full of promise.

“A decree went out from Caesar Augustus” the Caesar who was described in Myrian inscription as “Divine Augustus Caesar, son of god, imperator of the land and sea, the benefactor and savior of the whole world.” He was also defined as the “divine savior who brought peace to this world.” Luke was deliberately reminding his readers of claims of the Roman nobility, setting the stage for the upset.

We know that Mary and Joseph had to register for the census, what most of us don’t know is that this was the time when the people had to avow allegiance to the Roman emperors. The census was a sharp reminder the people of God were in bondage to a foreign power, but amazingly even the machinations of Roman served the purpose of God to bring Mary to the place where the Messiah was to be born. The fulfillment of Micah 5:2.

Luke reminds his readers that Joseph is of the House of David, of royal blood. He setting us up, because the famous shepherd king would vindicated on this night. His people who had been subjected to oppression and blasphemous rulers would see the God’s glory was not be confined to singular place, his people would hear the victory of their God proclaimed as they followed in David’s footsteps tending the sheep.

The angels would cry, “Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” The titles of Savior, God, and Prince of Peace would be stripped from the one who arrogantly claimed them as his own, and now bestowed upon a baby lying in a manger. The angels would declare the “Good News”, the εύαγγελιον , a term the Greeks used to declare victory in battle, but Isaiah tells us announces the arrival of God Himself.

The world would be turned upside down forever. God is here. There has been victory in the battle.

So for all who have ever endured the cold nights tending your sheep, doing the tasks required of us. For all us who experienced oppression, been subjected to people and things that would demand our allegiance, heard false promises of peace from those with no power to grant it, there is one comes in victory. There is a moment that gave meaning to all that would follow. Remember the angel’s song is for our ears.

Merry Christmas.

No comments: