Time and Place (December 19, 2011)

…Opening To…

God’s glory, now, is kindled gentler than low candlelight
Under the rafters of a barn:
Eternal Peace is sleeping in the hay,
And Wisdom’s born in secret in a straw-roofed stable. (Thomas Merton)

…Listening In…

In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. (Luke 2:1-4; context)

…Filling Up…

We come to it at last: the story we hear every Christmas – the second chapter of Luke. We know the story so well that we can find it difficult to really enter into it. We tend to look at it as we view the Christmas pageant: a cute story filled with cute characters and barnyard animals. But does it really impact our lives?

But if we look at the way Luke starts the story – not the way the Christmas pageant does – we find an answer to that question. Yes, this story impacts us here and now because of the great stirring of the world there and then. Notice the particularity that Luke provides in giving us the details of time and place. The event of the Incarnation didn’t just happen during some ephemeral “once upon a time” or in some fairyland. This story happened when Quirinius was governor of Syria and in the city of David called Bethlehem.

By giving his readers these details, Luke lets us know that he is not telling a fable or a morality tale or an allegory He is telling the Gospel, the story of the life of Jesus Christ the Savior. Yes, this story might be miraculous. Yes, this story might include things that are difficult to believe because they sound far-fetched or outside the realm of day-to-day normality. But this story happened. This story is true.

…Praying For…

Dear God, your story has been happening since before you began speaking creation into being. Help me to enter into your story in my own time and place so that I can be a part of your good news. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, as living vessel for holding the light of your son, as was the manger on that holy night.

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