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Glory Enough for Everyone
December 24, 2022, 6:00 PM

Nativity of Our Lord - Christmas Eve

To maintain the machinery of empire, people must be counted; not to be valued as individuals, but to assess tribute. It is the census. Lists of family members, and decisions about them, must be made. As your life, family, and records are audited, so also is your future decided. What sacrifice will be required for the glory of Rome?

If he has listened to Mary’s song (Luke 1:46-55), Joseph, as the state-recognized head of the household, can safely allow himself and his family to be among the counted. He would know that Imperial Rome’s time is short, that God brings down the “powerful from their thrones” and “sends the rich away empty.” Although in temporary bondage, God’s people will receive the promises made to Abraham for the sake of his descendants. If Joseph has listened to Mary (Luke 1:32-33) he knows that this son will sit on David’s throne, and cannot be removed. He may not understand how and when these things will come to pass, only that they will. Why not be counted?

Shepherds, however, cannot expect to be counted. While the rest of the world is engaged in the games of empire, they watched their flocks, unnoticed by census-takers. But they were not unnoticed by God. Beyond the view of the watchful eye of Caesar, God was doing a new thing, forging true peace to upset the sham pax of imperial domination, a new kingdom whose only army is that of angels singing, rank upon rank, of God’s saving work. It all begins with the unforeseen birth of a child and the wonder of a mother. We, like shepherds, stand in awe at God’s gracious surprise. There is glory enough for all.