1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. 2 This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.
Every great Fairy Tale begins the same way: “Once upon a time…” Whether it’s a Disney movie or a nursery rhyme, the refrain Once upon a time sets the stage for a wonderful tale full of twists and turns, fascinating story plots, and heroes and villains. But, with every Once upon a time we are reminded that the story being told is a Fairy Tale. It may be powerfully written, but it’s mythical. It is fundamentally, fiction.
The story of Advent begins much differently. It begins with, “In those days…” Not just any days. Not just any time period. Specifically, when Caesar Augustus decreed an Empire-wide tax. To be exact Luke refers to the tax initiated when Quirinius was governing Syria. These specific words from the ancient historian Luke should not surprise us. The author who chronicled the beginning of a movement that would be known as Christianity began his account of Jesus’s life this way:
“1 Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed. 5 In the days of King Herod of Judea…” (Luke 1:1-5a)
Luke was crafting a reliable account of the life and ministry of Jesus. If you’re the curious type, Quirinius was the Roman governor of Syria from 6-4 B.C.
As you celebrate Advent this season, keep in mind that you are not celebrating an idea, but a person. You are not singing the carols of a Fairy Tale, but the actual historical events of God coming near to us. Our faith is rooted in what is real. Jesus could be seen, touched and heard. This isn’t just a story. This is history.
Is faith required for Christianity? Absolutely. Blind faith? Not a chance. Jesus, son of a Nazareth carpenter walked this earth, proclaimed the Kingdom of God, was killed for our sins and rose from a grave to be seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses.
Remember this season, the story of Jesus begins, “In those days…”.
Further Reading: Luke 1-2.
Reflection: How you personally engage in the realness of Christmas this year? If you have children, how can you remind them that the Christmas story is anything but a Fairy Tale?