This evening at our home in Maroubra we welcomed into our home members of Christ Our Hope sydney’s Community. We gathered at our Well of St. Jacoba – the Community is Celtic Christian and as such the equivalent of a Hermitage is called a well because water is considered by the Celts as the gateway to Heaven.
Here is my Sermon – it has been a while since I provided acomplete liturgy.
The year is young, but 2 Sundays old, we celebrate the nativity of a tiny babe, born of a virgin, and we look forward to his returning to decide between lambs and kids, to make all things new.
Our Gospel today comes from the one who wrote Luke’s Gospel, he who would set all things down correctly for the Lover of God.
Luke investigated methodically from the beginning and decided to write a well-ordered commentary for the most excellent Theophilus, so that he could be re- assured of the things he had been taught.
It is not so clear cut.
Luke provides us with what might very well be a fictitious Census to get the Heli/Jacob family to Bethlehem. This has never been verified, with King Herod the Great having died 10 years before this event may have occurred. It is pointed out that Romans had never required residents to return to their birthplace just to be counted or taxed.
Quote “the census took place in 6 CE, ten years after Herod’s death in 4 BCE; there was no single census of the entire empire under Augustus; no Roman census required people to travel from their own homes to those of distant ancestors; and the census of Judea would not have affected Joseph and his family, living in Galilee.”
Just how historically accurate is the Gospel of Luke that it was used to give an account of Jesus’ life.
While we are ahead of ourselves here with the forerunner still to run into our arena, we can think about the possibility of poetic license and of how much do the details matter if the end product serves its purpose.
With both John and Jesus, the writer of Luke creates a diorama for each of them set in the foreground of apparent historical facts.
The Word of the Lord came to John in the desert – this same Word that created everything sent John on his mission? to ‘proclaim a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin, ‘which was predicted by Isaiah 40:3ff
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” GNB
When Jesus walked with those on the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus could this reference be among those revealed by him when he opened the scriptures to the couple on the road? We do not know and because the picture the writer paints becomes well balanced in colour and form, harmonious, it does not matter.
What we are learning or will learn stands by itself in any diorama. The Gospels Truth has to stand in something and a twisted tale or false tail do not detract from the Truth because the Truth is so.
That John the Baptist, forerunner to the coming Christ, set out on his mission to make his cousin known as Son of God need not be an accurate account if the end of it all foretells the life and Mission of the anointed one.
Think – how important is Biblical accuracy to your faith?
- Does Writers’ prerogative cause some to lose Faith and if so, how do we bring them understanding.
- When the bible appears to contradict itself as in the different Genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, son of Heli or son of Jacob, does it matter.
- I reverently hope that if I am called to mission that what I teach would be disbelieved just because I couldn’t prove I was myself.
- Is the difference in the Genealogies there to show us in a more drastic way that it just doesn’t matter whether some things are awry if the Message is True?
Rev. Andrew Blair