Friday, December 1, 2017
"Cuteness and God Are Unbeatable"
Christmas cards range from the irreverent to the poignant. The best-selling Christmas card ever for Hallmark is one with three little girls wearing halos. They look like three little angels. The message on the card is simply, “God bless you, love you and keep you.”
Cuteness and God are unbeatable.
In the first century, there was nothing about a census. Wealth and power were concentrated in Caesar Augustus. He needed taxes and troops. There were only two reasons for a census: a new tax assessment and the discovery of youths eligible for conscription into Rome’s military service. The Roman Empire appeared to control the entire world. That empire stretched from Britain across Europe down to North Africa and eastward into Asia.
Jews were considered too subversive to serve in the Roman army. Therefore, the census in Palestine was for the sole purpose of taxation.
The actual government edict said every man had to go back home to be counted. The old tribal ancestries held good. Joseph was required to travel the 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem to his family home.
Bethlehem meant house of bread. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. While the Roman Empire has long since vanished, we once again celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is the strongest story in the world; the story of God’s search for us. In love, God sent His Son to save us from our sins.
Two thousand plus years ago in that historic but unremarkable village of Bethlehem, in the puppet state of Palestine, it became perfectly clear. The clarity meant God loves us. Why else a baby in moldy hay, the child of peasants?
That’s the love we celebrate today.