Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve Sermon

For those who say that religion and politics don’t mix aren’t paying attention to tonight’s reading from Luke that we just heard. Maybe this passage has become TOO familiar to those who’ve been coming to Christmas Eve services for so many years or been watching endless loops of Linus’ monologue from A Charlie Brown Christmas, that the story has lost its political edge.

“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their hometowns to be registered.”

I’m no statistician, but why people had to take time off work to head to their hometowns to fill out a government form is a mystery to me. They could just as easily been counted where they lived and the Roman bureaucrats probably would have gotten better information.

But Luke, in his sneaky sort of way, makes a point in telling us that Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus in the city of the great King David. And anyone listening who knew their history would have known the Augustus fancied himself as the “King of Peace” who was to bring an end to all wars everywhere.

On top of that, Augustus, in a stunning act of hubris, also referred to himself as “Saviour” and encouraged people to worship him like a god. He was the all-powerful, wise, and virtuous leader who would usher in an era of peace and prosperity, whether you wanted his brand of peace and prosperity or not.

This gives the angels’ announcement to the shepherds more of a political spin: “Do not be afraid; for see- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

So Luke presents us with...(whole thing here)

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