In Those Days
Posted by Dr. Larry Taylor
We love sentimentality, especially at Christmas time.
Syrupy movies with bad acting.
Teach the world to sing.
Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
That’s a lie.
The cattle are lowing
The Baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes
I very much doubt it.
It came to pass in those days…
What were those days really like?
· Israel-Palestine was occupied.
· Caesar Augustus was on the throne.
· His name was Gaius Octavius.
· His great uncle was Julius Caesar.
· Augustus is a title indicating that he was a son of the gods.
· Everyone was required to worship him as divine lord.
· He was an absolute despot who ruled by terror.
· At the slightest hint of protest, Roman troops swept into town, randomly rounded up a bunch of innocent people and crucified all of them on a high hill nearby.
· There was no freedom. Everyone had been bludgeoned into submission.
· Poverty and oppression reigned.
· Judaism was corrupt. Its leaders were rich off the backs of the ordinary.
· The Temple was a den of thieves.
· Racism was prominent – Jews, Samaritans, and Romans, all hated each other.
· Women were property to be used, abused, and discarded at will.
· Unwanted children were left outside in the elements to die.
· A father could order his wife or children killed.
· There was no social safety net. Widows, orphans, and the disabled begged or starved.
· Life was brutal, unjust, and short.
Into that world God came.
Not as a conquering king, but as an infant.
Completely helpless and dependent.
The infant son of a poor teenage Jewish mother, displaced from home.
No generational wealth; no advantages.
No room in the kataluma, the caravansary.
Perhaps in a cave or grotto, no one knows for sure.
Dirt, filth, poverty, exposure.
Hailed by shepherds. Being a shepherd was the lowest, most despised job you could have. Shepherds are dirty.
At the age of eight days, he’ll be circumcised.
Pagan astrologers from Persia will visit and adore.
Soon, because of this birth, all the baby boys in the region will be brutally ripped from their mothers’ arms and slaughtered.
Inconsolable wails will fill the air.
The baby’s parents will flee to Egypt with him – displaced refugees.
We don’t much like this kind of Messiah, this kind of God.
What kind of Messiah is this?
What kind of God is this?
We don’t want a God who forgives, turns the other cheek, eschews violence, includes women, embraces children, who proclaims good news to the poor, freedom to the incarcerated, recovery of sight to the blind, sets the oppressed free, and proclaims YHWH’s favor.
“True worship of God consists quite simply in doing God’s will, but this sort of worship has never been to people’s taste.” – Søren Kierkegaard
No, we want a warlord, a conqueror, a king who will crush our enemies, marginalize those with different opinions and beliefs, put minorities in their place, make us victorious, powerful, and wealthy.
What’s all this nonsense about denying self, washing feet, serving others? We all know where that stuff leads – rejection, death, Golgotha.
Ah, but also Easter.
About Dr. Larry TaylorRadical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter
Posted on December 23, 2022, in Bible, Jesus, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, Life Coaching, Peace Shalom Hesed, social justice, Spiritual Direction, Spirituality, The Cross, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.