While these things were taking place the Roman Emperor Augustus ordered that a census be taken of everyone under his rule. This took place during the time Qurinius was governor of Syria. All the people of the Roman provinces of Syria and Judaea were forced to travel to their home town to be counted for the purpose of taxation.

Joseph and his pregnant wife made the journey from Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the city of David Joseph’s ancestor.

It is often difficult to see the cosmic sovereign reality of God at work in the world. There are other powers influencing human affairs that are so much easier to perceive and that seem often so much more powerful.

It takes no subtlety or skill to discern the influence of “the Roman Emperor Augustus.” Augustus had the power to order every person under his dominion to make an often arduous and pointless journey back to the town of their birth in order to be registered as a citizen of the Roman Empire. This registration took place to facilitate the collecting of a despised tax that would support the oppressive rule of the Roman regime over their subjugated peoples.

It was easy to see the might of Rome at work and equally easy to despise those who wielded that power. Struggling under Roman domination, it seemed as if God had deserted the very people who sought to stay loyal and faithful to the Divine presence of their historic tradition.

Advent invites me to look more deeply than the dominant powers of secular authority and to see the softness of a baby who embodied a power greater and more real than all worldly governors. Advents asks me to listen more carefully and to hear behind the tramp of military boots, the gentle cry of newborn. This quiet infant voice captures the true power of the universe embodying that love that is the greatest force in all existence and that was born on that holy Christmas morning.