Family of Hope House Church
A Subversive Christmas? - Harvey Yoder
Ever notice how much attention is given to first century political leaders in the first Christmas story?
In Luke’s gospel the story begins with the familiar words, “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that all the world should be taxed,” followed by his noting that “this census was first taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.”
Then in the gospel of Matthew King Herod, puppet governor of Roman-occupied Judea, becomes a prominent player in the story as well.
These kings and emperors were ruthless despots under whose rule any rebellion was met with brutal force. Like other tyrants of their time they freely ordered people crucified, tortured, beheaded or otherwise eliminated as ways of intimidating their subjects into submission.
Emperor Caesar Augustus, undisputed sovereign over most of the so-called civilized world in the first century, claimed to be a divine son of God, and a god himself, with titles like "god from god," "Lord," "Liberator," and "Savior of the world."
Thus the early gospel writers were taking their lives into their own hands by claiming the divine birth of a king born of a peasant girl in an occupied country, and by announcing the coming of another kingdom ruled by another Sovereign, Yahweh, whose son was Jesus--sovereign Lord, long awaited Messiah and Prince of Peace.
This would certainly have sounded like a form of seditious heresy to the powers of that time, and could have resulted in the Roman military dealing harshly with it, just as Herod did in ordering all the male children in the Bethlehem area to be killed to eliminate any future rival.
All of which makes Christmas more than just about festivity and merry making, but a bold announcement about who--and in the end, what power--is really sovereign, a declaration that still divides the world in two.
Notes, prayers and praises
* PRAY FOR MICHAEL RIVERIERA-WENGER, who has been receiving hospice care at his home at 204 Homes Lane, Staunton, VA 24401.
* CONGRATULATIONS TO JOSIAH DUMAS who scored in the 94th percentile range in the GED test he recently passed with flying colors.
* GUY VLASITS unexpectedly spent most of his 65th birthday (11/21) and the next day undergoing tests at RMH. Thankfully, he was pronounced well and was able to attend a belated birthday party the next evening.
* BERTHA SWARR has been recovering well at Oak Lea Nursing Home and looks forward to being home soon.
* DECEMBER BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS to Karen Campbell 12/26!
* INVITE YOUR FRIENDS to our 12/11 Christmas gathering (below)!
December lectionary readings
4 Isaiah 40:1–11 Psalm 85:1–2, 8–13 2 Peter 3:8–15a Mark 1:1–8
11 Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11 Psalm 126 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24 John 1:6–8, 19–28
18 2 Samuel 7:1–11, 16 Luke 1:47–55 Romans 16:25–27 Luke 1:26–38
25 Isaiah 52:7–10 Psalm 98 Hebrews 1:1–4, 5–12 John 1:1–14
December services worship at 4 pm, meal at 6 (except 12/11)
4 Location: James & Ruth Stauffer 1250 Parkway Dr 22802 574-6141
Worship and Sharing: James Stauffer
Bible Study: Paul Swarr
11 Annual Christmas Celebration with other house churches at 12:30 pm
Location: Guy & Margie Vlasits 3448 Caverns Drive, K’town 908-0391
Meditation: Bill Stultz
Plus carol singing, a children’s story, food offerings for the Food Pantry, and a money offering for Heifer International
12:30 pm Carry-in Meal
18 Location: Rachel Stoltzfus 1359 Two Penny Drive 433-3983
Worship and Sharing: Harvey Yoder
Bible Study: Dick Dumas
25 To be announced