1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 2during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,

the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

This story travels in the terrain of human history. Luke goes to great pains to root his recollections in real time. He wants to locate Jesus in a particular place and with particular people. He wants us to see Jesus in the context of particular events.

This is where we all live. We all live in a particular place, with particular people, in the context of particular events. These are the places, people, and events we have been given. They are the context for our lives to develop and grow. Christianity specializes in particularity.

This journey I take with Jesus happens in real time. It is not a journey away from the lived realities of life. I am not being invited into some escapist state of bliss that will shelter me from the gritty business of daily life.

I am being invited to hear “the word of God” in the context of Emperor Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod and his brother Philip. It is right here, right now in this “region of Ituraea and Trachonitis,” that I am called to open my heart. I may not like Lysanias the ruler of Abilene; I may find Annas and Caiaphas objectionable. But they are my life at this time, in this place.

Some of the people I encounter along the journey will be indifferent to this word of truth I seek. Some people I have to live with may be openly hostile to the softening presence of God’s Spirit.

There are no ideal circumstances in which to receive the truth of God’s word. But this is the time and place I have been given. These are the particularities within which I live.

In what ways may I be blaming my external circumstances for the frustrations and inadequacies of my life?

How does my relationship to the circumstances and people of my life change when I remember that it is always possible for “the word of God” to come to me?

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