Ponderings with Doug – December 20, 2019

As I write this, we are six days away from Christmas Eve. In Methodist life are in the process of counting candles, rounding up readers and scrutinizing Scriptures. We will host three services on Christmas Eve. Two will be at the church. The other one we are “going on the road” for the service.

For the second year, I will let the Bible tell the story. I quote the question of my son Andrew as we were driving to a Christmas Eve service, “Hey dad are you preaching tonight or are you going to let us enjoy Christmas?” We will sing carols, serve communion and then pass the light as we sing Silent Night. Christmas Eve is my favorite church service of the year. Since we are in candlelight, I practice the scripture readings.

I was reading the Luke nativity story again. It begins, “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.” The contrast that I often overlook is between Caesar and Christ. The first listeners imagined the majesty of Caesar Augustus. They could visualize the palaces, the robes and the trappings of power.

Contrast the regal majesty of Caesar with the humble description of Jesus. “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” That is a challenge that faith offers, compare and contrast leaders and leadership with Jesus. In terms of trappings, Caesar knew magnificence, Jesus knew the manger. That’s what I was thinking when I pulled up this old poem. I thought it might help you prepare of Christmas.

The work by Dr. James Allen Francis is entitled One Solitary Life.

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”