Dec. 19, 2012
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 2:3-4
Where is your hometown?
I grew up in rural Fall Creek, Wisconsin but attended high school in Augusta. While I was in college, my parents moved into Augusta. Technically, I haven’t lived in this community for over 25 years. Yet before I was married, it bothered my Mom when I would say I was coming to their house. She wanted me to say that I was “coming home.” It was difficult for her to hear that I no longer called their house “home.”
Joseph is from Bethlehem. He’s going to his hometown. Whether he was living there or not, it’s where his family is from. As a descendent of King David, his family took great pride in being from the same town as this most famous king.
But this time when he returns to Bethlehem, things are different. His fiancée, Mary is pregnant. He’s not the father but will people believe him if he’d said, “It’s not my fault. God got her pregnant.” Hardly.
Sometimes going “home” is exciting and fun. We get to see people we may not see often, visit places we remember from our childhood. I’m thinking Joseph was not all that excited to go back to Bethlehem. So much has happened and it’s not easy to explain. But he didn’t have a choice. Caesar made the decision for him. He had to suck it up and do the right thing. Maybe he was more concerned what to do with his very pregnant fiancée, Mary. The baby could come any time. What would he do?
While our addresses may change, our identity is always rooted in you, Lord God. As members of your family, may we see ourselves at home in your loving and caring arms. This is our home. May this place be a safe refuge for us. Amen.
Dec. 18, 2012
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. – Luke 2:1-2
The author of Luke’s gospel sets the timetable for us. Caesar was the head-honcho of Roman Government. He ruled for about 33 years. We have a clearer understanding of when Jesus was born because we’re also told it was while Quirinius was in power.
Apparently, Caesar felt the Roman government was having a cash flow problem. Caesar loved to build and he needed more money. One way to get cash would be to demand a census. As people were counted, additional taxes could be assessed.
The edict went out that every man had to return to the town of his ancestors. Joseph’s family comes from the line of King David. King David’s hometown is Bethlehem. Joseph is in Nazareth with Mary. Mary is very pregnant but Caesar didn’t care that she would have to withstand a 10-day journey being nine months pregnant. So, off Mary and Joseph go.
Didn’t God realize this journey would be terribly difficult for Mary? Why didn’t God just let the baby be born in Nazareth? Could have God changed Caesar’s mind and have him delay the census? Yes, God could have done any of these things. Instead, God took the situation of Caesar’s desire for more money and used it to God’s advantage so that Joseph could be born in David’s city.
At the time, I would guess Mary and Joseph were exasperated that they were going to have to make this long journey. Once again, we see where God has a much broader and wider understanding of God’s kingdom. We see God using the situation at hand (Caesar’s desire for taxes) as an opportunity to God’s prophecy to be fulfilled. Quite ingenious, isn’t God? With God, all things are possible. Amen.
Lord God – When difficulties loom before us, it is so easy to get anxious and frustrated and distracted. But in those moments, remind us Lord God that you can work through even seemingly ridiculous situations. If you can turn a census into an opportunity to fulfill prophecy, we can’t image what you could do with our lives. Amen.