Churchnet December 2016 - Page 13

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and no formal ceremony. No one except the shepherds and Mary and Joseph knew the baby was even born! What a terrible PR plan, if I may say. But to be fair, the Gospel of Matthew does say that a group of star watchers from the East (modern-day Iran) were paying attention and journeyed far and wide to find the new born “King of the Jews.” But they go to Herod’s royal court in Jerusalem to find the exact location, because if anyone should know about this important birth, King Herod should, right? Wrong. Herod has no clue and, to top it off, takes great offense that a new “King of the Jews” has been born. After all, Herod was an evil tyrant. He ruled the area with an iron fist (he learned well from his father) and he was not afraid to leveraging violence and intimidation on the people he ruled over to get his way.

So if the story of Jesus’ birth wasn’t political enough at this point, now you’ve got Herod looking all over Judea for this newborn who challenges his power and privilege. He leverages more violence and intimidation on the people of Bethlehem and the surrounding hills — by killing every male child two years and under, — in order to eradicate the threat. Can you imagine? This is stuff not captured in a Hallmark card or a nativity scene in anyone’s home that I know. It’s horrible.

But it all shows us that God didn’t come to us incarnate in a social or political vacuum. He entered into our world’s space/time and it caused a huge amount of political fallout. As the child grows, his

manor of interpreting scripture and living

out God’s kingdom on earth as it is in

heaven continues to anger those in power,

both in the church and state and confuse

those disciples who follow closely.

So, as we read the Christmas story about

the birth of Emmanuel, God with us, this

year, may we also reflect on the hard political

realities of this beloved story. I for one am

glad that God decided to come live among

us despite the political risks. Lord knows

we need that.

I hope you join me in embracing the politics

of Christmas, because being a Jesus follower

in 2016 and beyond is still as political as ever.