Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19, 2012

Today's text

The angel said … ‘today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.' And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven praising God with the words: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favors (Luke 2: 11-14).


The search for a savior is common among human souls. Saviors bring salvus, health and wholeness not only to our hearts but to the heart of world. They imitated justice, peace and prosperity among the nations. We want such salvation, but who brings it?

Jesus was not the only one who bore the title ‘savior’ in the ancient world. Most notable was Octavian, otherwise known as Caesar Augustus. In 31 BCE, he had ended a prolonged civil war that had ripped apart the Roman Empire and thus much of the world.

Reuniting the empire, he was hailed as Augustus, the ‘Divine One.’ He was called The Lord, Bringer of Peace, Redeemer, Liberator, Son of God, Savior of the World, divinity incarnate.

Virtually every title attached to Jesus had already been assigned to Octavian for bringing peace to a war-weary world.

Octavian, the savior, brought peace through violence, conquering and subduing the forces of chaos that threatened the world.

And Jesus, infant son of peasants born in a far corner of the empire, what does he bring? What can he possibly bring to a world much wider yet as troubled as when he walked the earth?

He brings no armies, no subjugation, no force to destroy our enemies. He brings a table. And around that table he invites friend and enemy alike to eat and drink, feasting on the infinite generosity of God.

Peace comes through the sharing of bread and justice, mercy and compassion.

For the most part, the world is in thrall to Octavian’s way. Most don’t believe in Jesus way of peace, including most Christians. Victory over those who trouble us, the use of force and threats to get our way, these are considered the wisest and safest course in a menacing world.

But the angels’ song has never died out through 20 centuries. They continue to pull at our souls, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace for those he favors.”

The angels announce the dawning of a new age. Their song of glory carries our hearts to the manger of the real savior who bears God’s favor and salvation for every last one of us.

For prayer and reflection

  • What does the angel’s song awaken in your heart and mind?
  • What is the difference between Christ’s way and the way of Caesar Augustus?
  • How can you live Jesus’ way of peace during this season and beyond?
  • To what saviors do the world and the nations look for salvation?

Another voice

Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn king; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinner reconciled. Joyful all you nations, rise; join the triumph of the skies; with angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem. Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn king!
(“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” text: Charles Wesley, music: Felix Mendelssohn, 1830)

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