Lord, I pray today for those people who once were disciples of yours but have now stopped believing. Grant that someone who knows them may come alongside them and enable them to seek a new way forward, pointing them to you. May they pierce beyond the intellectual problems and meet Jesus as a person. Through Christ. AMEN
Lord, I pray for people who are struggling to overcome situations which have held them back. I pray for released prisoners trying to find their way again and to secure employment and acceptance in society, for those recovering from addiction, and those recovering from serious injury. Help them all. I ask it in Jesus Christ’s name. AMEN
Lord, I pray for people who are recovering from illness today. Help them to be diligent in taking whatever medicine may have been prescribed, to do whatever exercise may have been recommended, and to report back to their doctor at whatever time he may have asked. Help them to be positive and to look forward. In Christ’s name. AMEN
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world… So Joseph went up … to Judea, to Bethlehem”.
Luke 2:1, 4 NIV
In ancient times the gods of the nations had all manner of origins. Many of them were personified features of nature – one of the Egyptians gods was a hawk. Then many were imaginary characters from myths who were really fictional copies of human beings – with human faults and failures. Some were merely projections of people’s wishes – the fertility gods and goddesses of the Canaanites were objects of sexual desire, supporting the “ministry” of the sacred prostitutes at the “high places” we read of in the Old Testament.
Joseph made the trek from Nazareth in the north of Israel to Bethlehem in the south, a distance of about seventy miles. But Luke is careful to emphasize that Joseph’s visit was in conformity with an Empire-wide order from the Emperor in Rome. Luke was saying, “Jesus was born in a real-life historical situation to which all humans in the Roman Empire were subject. He was not ‘cooked up’ or a figment of human imagination like the gods of many nations. He was subject to rulers, laws, edicts and decrees, some of them good and some bad. It was at a point in human history that can be checked, verified and proved”.
It is his entry into the world of “all sorts and conditions of men” that we celebrate at Christmas. He became a real man in a real world with power politics, human migration, human problems and human possibilities, hopes and fears. He did not come to take us out on a euphoric escape trip. He was God’s salvation in God’s real world. He still is.
Lord, thank you for entering my world with real salvation.
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