The Nativity of Christ (2012)

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.”  (Luke 2:1, KJV)

Mary and Joseph being enrolled at the order of Caesar Augustus

The context for the birth of Christ in Luke’s Gospel is the census ordered by Caesar Augustus. A census done to determine what taxes needed to be paid to the imperial government. St. Luke places the birth of Christ in the context of setting tax rates for the government!  (Sounds like Christmas 2012 in the USA)   The Gospel writers place the narration of the birth of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ within the news of that time.  That is also how we hear the story today: within the context of our current history.

Taxes belong to this earth which is passing away. They are not eternal values. The taxes of the mighty Roman Empire and the great Caesar Augustus, which we are reminded of each year at Christmas, have no effect on those living outside the Empire – either in space or time.  (The icon is from the Chora Church in Istanbul showing the Holy Virgin and Joseph before the census-takers).  Even the Holy Family acknowledged the Roman government and rendered to Caesar.   While the Roman census and taxes are long forgotten, the birth of an impoverished Palestinian Jewish baby, which few paid attention to at the time, has had global and timeless impact on us all.

This year we also hear the story of the birth of Christ within the context of a massacre of children which took place 2 weeks ago in Connecticut. A massacre of the Holy Innocent children after the birth of Christ is part of the Gospel story of Christmas even if it is not part of the Christmas story we Americans tend to herald in our cards and decorations. But the birth of Christ has everything to do with the reality of a violent and sinful world. Christmas in that sense is not a Children’s story, but it is Goodnews for all children in a world which has evil and violence.

We are citizens of the Kingdom of God: an eternal Kingdom whose decrees are always timely and global. Yet we live in a world which continues to have taxes and massacres of innocent children. Despite these evil events, God so loved the world that He gave His own dear son that whoever believes in Him should have eternal life. Let us never doubt God’s love despite the evil we encounter.

The Kingdom of God isn’t something that will come in the mail, appear on TV, be found under the tree, or that will be on sale December 26. But it is a Kingdom that is always in us.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

You can find links to all the blogs I have or will post during this year’s Christmas season at 2012 Nativity Blogs.