Christmas Reversals by day

Christmas Day

We are all very familiar with the Christmas story and the Christmas Gospel that we just read from the Luke 2. But in some ways the story is even more familiar than we think – and yet still radically different.

For we all know stories that begin about the rich and famous. Our newspapers and magazines in print and online still tell those kind of stories all the time. So this story begins with the announcement that the then head honcho, Caesar Augustus was doing something, and his local henchman was in on the party as well. Yes, the powers that be wanted a new census to be taken. [Remember God is not a great fan of taking a census.] Which can mean one of only two things – he wanted to increase taxation revenue by undertaking an accurate count of the population, or he wanted to see how many conscripts he had, or if he needed to make his army any bigger. Or both.

But very quickly we discover that this story is not about the important people, or the powerful people, or the rich people. It’s about these two people who are making their way over hundreds of kilometres, probably on foot, maybe as part of a larger caravan, maybe there’s a donkey involved, maybe not… These two people, Mary and Joseph, have to travel from the boon-docks of western Galilee to the slightly more respectable Bethlehem, near Jerusalem. When they arrive in Bethlehem, they discover that the lodging house for travellers is already filled with people who didn’t have to travel quite as far, so they have to use the ground floor below the more respectable upper rooms, where there is only straw laid down for animals to sleep. The only place to lay the baby when he comes is in a feeding trough. This really is a different kind of story after all…

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