An Advent Reflection
In 9 BC the following inscription was written on a stone in the area of Priene …
The providence, which has ordered the whole of our life, showing concern and zeal, has ordained the most perfect consummation for human life by giving to it Augustus, by filling him with virtue for doing the work of a benefactor among men, and by sending him, as it were, a savior for us and those who come after us, to make war to cease, to create order everywhere. The birthday of the GOD AUGUSTUS – was the beginning of the good news of glad tidings that have come to men through him.
Just a few years later, a group of shepherds received this message on one particular illuminating night …
Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For today in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly, there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “glory to God in the highest and on earth peace with men of good will”.
It’s impossible for me to read these two statements, and walk away without a clear sense that from it’s beginning, the announcement of the good news of the coming of God in Christ, came as a direct challenge to the perceived gods of the world. Caesar was in charge – it was his world – and though the wrong seemed oft so strong – he was the ruler yet. And in Caesar they had hope. Yet, the good news of Jesus proclaimed tidings of joy for all people in a way that Caesar’s never could. Today, we still proclaim Christ’s tiding in this Advent Season … the world thinks of Caesar very little.
But Caesar is not gone.
As I think about Advent I wonder “what is the challenge of Christ’s news today?” There are still plenty of things (and also perhaps people) that promise salvation. We place our hopes at their feet. Some of then speak to us through the walkways of the local up-scale Mall Center … others call out to us from a podium in front of a White House. The work that we do (especially the work of ministry) has a sneaky way of disguising its Caesar-like identity. I know it has captured me more than once.
But, Jesus is still here too – and still challenging Caesar.
Our Advent faith is an Easter faith. It is grounded in the reality of a moment where the powers of sin, death, and evil all ganged up together and still met their match. Jesus stands over and above all Caesar’s … it is to Him we look … it is in Him we hope.
All Hail King Jesus!!!