Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus to register all the empire for taxes. This was the first registration, taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone went to his own town to be registered. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David. He went to be registered with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him, and who was expecting a child.
~Doctor Luke, Luke 2:1-5
Usually going home causes a certain amount of joy. Reconnecting with family and friends is normal around Christmas time. For Mary and Joseph that first Christmas visiting extended family was not filled with joy, it was a matter of obeying a decree issued from a tyrannical government.
At an inconvenient time the ruler of the world decreed that everyone must travel to their ancestral hometown and register to pay taxes. Joseph was stressed, his family was about to grow. Mary was nearing the end of her pregnancy and Joseph had to make a choice. He could go alone and register or he could fully accept his God given role and take Mary with him and register as a family.
Joseph chose to go home with Mary, he chose to be the man God had called him to be.
Our hope for you today is that you make a choice, that you choose to be the person God is calling you to be.
Edmund Hamilton Sears was an Unitarian minister who believed in the Divinity of Jesus Christ. His song “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” has been sung by dedicated Christians for many years. The beloved Christmas hymn is playing softly in the background of today’s podcast.
The description of life in the third verse is particularly powerful in our ministry context. We see the weight of burdens physical, mental and spiritual every day in Ecuador. We also see the transformation of people who respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ!
It came upon the midnight clear,
that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth
to touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
from heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
to hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come
with peaceful wings unfurled,
and still their heavenly music floats
o’er all the weary world;
above its sad and lowly plains,
they bend on hovering wing,
and ever o’er its Babel sounds
the blessed angels sing.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way
with painful steps and slow,
look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
and hear the angels sing!
For lo! the days are hastening on,
by prophet seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years
shall come the time foretold
when peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world send back the song
which now the angels sing.
With much love, The Downings