The Talking Pew: Jesus the Tax Collector? The Mighty General?

By The Talking Pew

Caesar Augustus believes himself to be a powerful man. And maybe he is. He has ordered that the “entire world” be registered and taxed, and he’s got the armies of soldiers and legions of tax collectors to make that happen.

Meanwhile, some folks with very little power indeed – shepherds who have no home but the same field in which they keep their sheep – are shocked to see an angel standing before them one night.

The shepherds are terrified, of course. Who wouldn’t be struck dumb by the glory of the Lord?

But the angel tells them not be afraid. Yes, the announcement is terrifying, but the gift itself is human scale and manageable. It’s the divine made flesh in the form of a baby boy.

I wonder how God’s presence in the world would have felt to those shepherds – and to us – if it had arrived as an emperor with armies of soldiers and tax collectors instead of as the newborn son of a carpenter and his betrothed?

Text and Photo © 2011 BF Newhall

“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered . . . In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified . . . ”  — Luke 2:1,8-9

 LECTIONARY: Christmas, Selection I, RCL All Years

Isaiah 9:2-7
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14(15-20)
Psalm 96

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© 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Barbara Falconer Newhall. and Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog's author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Barbara Falconer Newhall and with appropriate and specifc direction to the original content. Bible texts are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA. The Psalms are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. Material originally published and copyrighted by the Oakland Tribune is posted here by permission. WordPress theme adapted from Thematic Theme Framework