The Readings of the Day
Isaiah 11: This is God’s plan for the world. When it says a shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, it’s referring to the father of David, the great King. In the Bible stories, David, of course, is a great, great... something or other grandfather of Jesus.
A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
This new world order will be so different to what we know now, says the prophet that it will affect everything.
6The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah,* the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying,
14‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’*
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
He is Saviour and Lord.
He is called the Saviour of the Whole World.
Indeed The birthday of the God has marked the beginning of the good news through him for the world.” (Fitzmyer pp393)
These religious sounding words are not from the bible.
They are written about the Emperor Augustus Caesar, who ruled the Roman Empire when Jesus was born.
They sound familiar because the Gospel writers copied the things people said about the Emperors of Rome!
Except that the Gospel writers are saying Augustus is not Saviour and Lord; Jesus is. It’s not Augustus’ birth which marks the beginning of the good news. It is Jesus’ birth which marks the beginning of Good News through him for all the earth.
What we are celebrating on Jesus’ birthday is a rebellion against Rome. Christmas is God saying that the rulers are wrong. They do not hold our salvation.
Whenever Barak Obama, or Julia Gillard or Tony Abbot, or Gerry Harvey, or the boss at work make a pronouncement, they are not our Lord. God calls us to measure their words, and the rightness of their words, against the words and the life of Jesus.
So, go and have fun today. Rejoice with family. Rejoice over the new babies and the grandchildren. Eat lots, drink to enjoy... and don’t drive if you do drink. Don’t ask too much of the day, but have fun.
And spare a minute to think about Jesus whose birth we are celebrating. He shows us a new way to live, that will set us free from ourselves and turn the world upside down. His life, and his words are the ones that will give us good life.
There is a question to ask after Christmas, though. I’ll just leave it with you. Are you on the side of the revolution, or on the side of the Empire?
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