December 23, 2013

Sympathy for the Emperor at Christmastime





In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  All went to their own towns to be registered.  Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.  He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
             In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger."  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
             "Glory to God in the highest heaven,
            and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"
  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."  So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. -- Luke 2:1-20




The outbreak of newness was contagious as a song
containment was unmanageable even with
the emperor’s hierarchy and stranglehold of peace

The first case was reported in a barn where
people and domesticated animals share germs
freely and misery and hunger and cold and labor

From there it was thought to spread to a small band
of sheep herders and a rustic village pub where they
drank pints and harmonized, that may have been where

the traveler was infected with the joy virus
and spread it upstate to an unsuspecting pessimist
who took drugs at first to stop the unusual feeling

From there no one is sure how it became global
other than the emperor and all inoculated like him
did their royal best to control and spin the good news

birthed that night, but the more they pressed down
the more it lifted up, the more they schemed
the more the glad spirit frustrated their ways

so that anywhere the ease of God disrupts the disease
of power, hidden births of faith and love and mercy
appear and people sing and someone else catches it

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