Luke 3:1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene-
This is Luke’s equivalent of saying “during the Obama and Christy administrations.” It gives a time frame within what we call history. It conveys that the story of Jesus that Luke is telling is not a romantic fantasy set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away but one that was played out right in the midst of the daily headlines, the muck and grind of regular human affairs. It strikes me that much of what we do surrounding Christmas is escapism. We decorate and spend and congregate in ways that we don’t the rest of the year. We use a lot of candles and soft lights and try to create an ambience of peace and good will that gets tossed away with the Christmas tree in January. That’s why Advent is so important. The story of John the Baptist we read in the lectionary this year is one of preparing for God in the real world, the one where we need repentance and forgiveness and encouragement and community; The one where we fail to live up to God’s standards but where we give and receive grace to go on; The one where our leaders fight for self-interest and advancement and influence just like the leaders Luke writes about here. Into this world comes God in the form of a baby. How will we prepare for his coming during the Obama and Christy administrations?