Thursday, December 02, 2010

O Little town of...Nazareth?????

It's just a throw away line at the beginning of Luke chapter 2, just some names that cause linguistic difficulties to anyone assigned to read this passage in a Christmas Service.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was Governor of Syria.)

It's a passage that causes problems for historians as Jesus was born around 5 B.C.E. while Quirinius was not governor of Syria until around 6 -7 A.D. There are various theories put forward as to how to reconcile the dates, but that isn't what caught me I as I read the passage this week.

The prophets spoke of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, but Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth 90 miles away, so to fulfill the prophets God had to get them to Bethlehem somehow. With all the angelic visits happening to Mary and Joseph I wonder why God didn't instruct Gabriel to tell Mary to give birth in Bethlehem instead of using the census as a means of getting them there.

An angelic pronouncement about traveling to Bethlehem would have given the journey a feel of the holy rather than one of inconvenience. God using the occupying forces, the 'heathen enemy' to make sure that prophesy is fulfilled. That alone should cause me to reflect a little more closely on events in my life to see if the hand of God is lurking in the background.

Augustus took a census of the entire Roman World, I've begun to think that I should take a census of my 'world' this Advent season as an aid to using this time as one of preparation.
  • Where is my 'world' functioning well?
  • What parts of my 'world' need greater attention?
  • What parts of my 'world' pour joy into me?
  • What parts of my 'world' drain joy from me?
To reflect causes me to see areas that need a response.
To reflect causes me to question assumptions.

But most importantly, to reflect helps me begin to see where God is birthing something new in my life, in unexpected places.

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