In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
We like a good story. There is nothing like a good movie to transport us to a different time and place. Many of the stories we like are fiction, and so no matter how realistic a movie seems we know, in the back or our minds, that it isn’t true.
The Christmas story can, at times, seem like a fictional story. We may be inspired by it, but it doesn’t seem to have very many implications to our lives. Luke reminds us that the story of Christmas is not fiction, that it actually happened at a specific time in history. A significant event happened one night in Bethlehem; an event that would go on to change the world.
Take some time today to examine a nativity scene. It may not be historically accurate, but each of those figures remind us that the events of Christmas happened to real people who lived in a real place.
Think about what it must have been like to have been Mary, a young girl who was given a huge responsibility. Think about Joseph, the young man who had his world turned upside down by the announcement that his wife-to-be is pregnant. Real people who had their lives affected in real ways.
It is easy to hear the Christmas story and forget that is an actual event and something that real people experienced. The reason this is important to remember is because the fact that it is true is what makes the biggest difference in our lives. That moment in time changes all the moments after it. Without the stable in Bethlehem we don’t have Jesus whose life, death, and resurrection are the foundation of our faith. We also don’t have the 12 apostles, the Church, or the New Testament. In short, without Bethlehem we are without hope.
Our God is not a god who sits in heaven watching passively the events that happen here on earth. Our God is the God who intercedes and acts on the behalf of His creation. He directs the course of history in order to restore that which He loves so much.
The thought to meditate on today is: Christmas is a celebration of the God who intercedes in human history.