Tuesday, December 24, 2013


after CAESAR

The Christ Child is about to be born,
       the one promised by the angel.
  Mary's "fullness of time" has arrived.
Except that the birth is scheduled
       according to the emperor:
   A decree went out that all should be numbered.

Caesar decreed a census, everyone counted;
Caesar intended to have up-to-date data for the tax rolls;
Caesar intended to have current lists of draft eligibility;
Caesar intended taxes to support armies,
     because the emperor, in whatever era,
         is always about money and power,
             about power and force,
             about force and control,
                and eventually violence.

And while we wait for the Christ Child,
   we are enthralled by the things of Caesar---
          and all the well-being that comes from
          such control, even if it requires a little violence.

But in the midst of the decree
   will come this long-expected Jesus,
       innocent, vulnerable,
       full of grace and truth,
       grace and not power,
       truth and not money,
       mercy and not control.

We also dwell in the land of Caesar;
   we pray for the gift of your spirit,
   that we may loosen our grip on the things of Caesar,
   that we may turn our eyes toward the baby,
              our ears toward the newness,
              our hearts toward the gentleness,
              our power and money and control
                      toward our new governance.

We crave the newness.
     And while the decree of the emperor
         rings in our ears with such authority,
     give us newness that we may start again
                 at the beginning,
     that the innocence of the baby may
          intrude upon our ambiguity,,
     that the vulnerability of the child may
          veto our lust for control,
     that we may be filled with wonder
          and so less anxiety,
       in the blessed mane of the baby we pray.

Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People

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