This Advent season we’ve had a theme, For such a time as this, and each week we talked about the time we are in, and what we are called to do with the time. Time matters in our stories, like when we tell about how we waited in line forever, or how years raising children might go by in a moment. In our bible stories, it might be “it felt like it rained for 40 continuous days.”
Our story starts “In those days…” In those days a decree went out from the Emperor. In those days Caesar Augustus made a declaration to all the world. In those days he thought he ruled all the world and he thought if he asked people do to something, they had to do it. In those days, he could, and the people did.
In those days was time of chronology, of ordering, of one way of doing things.
In those days was business as usual. It was when the powers controlled all things, it was when decrees were sent out and followed, it was a time of census and taxes and authoritative orders and pronouncements. The world was shaped by the powerful.
When we tell history, we try to do it in order–this, then that, then the other thing, chronos time, chronological time. Luke tells us about that time, back the–in those days the people weren’t free, in those days they were occupied, their movements were controlled and regulated. They had to be counted to count in the empire.
In those days the powers were corrupt, were fighting for control, were abusing their people. In those days they knew fear and pain. In those days they keep a close eye their children for fear of what might become of them, or for how the powers might take them. In those days they struggled to make it through another day
In those days…
We know times like that. When life is a struggle and often filled with fear. In those days we have been counted, every ten years and some live in fear of being found or not found, counted or not counted.
In those days We have known taxes and financial struggles, when we question what is been done with the money, when we don’t understand the point of it all.
In those days we have known struggle and pain. We have seen the loss of children in war, parents to disease, siblings to despair. In those days we struggle and feel pain,
In those days we fear–fear the other, fear the powers, empire, pandemic, fear death.
In those day…
Those days, even the words sound like it was long ago. They sound tired and old and hopeless—of either the past or the present.
In those days…
But it doesn’t stay that way. The story doesn’t end in those days because our story happens on this day.
This day is different than the rest. This day isn’t about chronological time but this day is about eternity breaking into time.
This day Mary gave birth to her first born son and swaddled him up, and laid him in a manger and so this day is different.
This day has arrived, the one that we have been waiting for
This day the angels came to the shepherds and said this day there is good news, because this day the Messiah, the savior has been born. This day hope was born, love came to earth in the body of baby, who would have to grow like everyone else.
This day the angels said, do not be afraid. This day the shepherds, those who weren’t even worthy to be counted by the powers, were welcomed into this day.
Heaven touched earth on this day,
Love come to us, and hope reminds us that the old ways, those days, are not the way they have always been, nor are they way they things will always be, because this day Jesus was born to be a hope to all people, to show what it means to love completely despite the costs, to live out the calling in our lives without fear, to reveal what it means to be a light in dark times.
This day, we live in hope and love and light.
In the midst of those day, those days of fear and darkness, this day has come to bring us hope, to how us love.
Tonight we light candles. We hold them up to pierce the darkness.
Poet Samuel Rayan wrote: “A candle is a protest at midnight. It is a non-conformist. It says to the darkness, ‘I beg to differ.'”
This day we say to the darkness, to the fear, to the hopelessness, that this day is different. This day and every day that follows is touched by Heaven because Jesus came and lived among us, brought and bringing us hope, love, light, joy and peace.
May This day, and all your days, be blessed by the God who came to live among us, in person of Jesus.