The militia had taken over; and there was chaos everywhere
The Emperor wanted to know how many… how many people were there; which family line did they come from; what did they do… so he ordered a census.
A tally of people
You can’t tax them, rule them, oppress them if you don’t know them.
The militia spread fear and mistrust
No one knew who to trust
No one knew who was loyal, who was a collaborator; life was lived on a knife edge.
The militia had their own pawns in the game
The local leaders were all terrified, and desperate to preserve what little power remained, what little dignity was left. So they obliged; obeyed; submitted; accommodated the interlopers.
Life was hard; people were hard and it seemed like there was no hope. Anywhere.
The faithful cried out to God
O God! How long?! How long must we wait?
And into the darkness came the spark of hope.
Into the atmosphere of distrust and fear and anxiety and suspicion came a glimmer of hope.
Mixed with doubt and confusion.
It was all risky.
The hope might pay off; but it might also end in betrayal; grief; death.
But, it also might bring joy and love and new life.
Glorious new life!
So, they took the risk.
They followed the plan
They set out on the fearful, hazardous journey, filled with pitfalls and threats.
Eventually they got there… but there was nowhere to go
Everywhere was so full
The place teemed with weary bodies; exhaustion permeated their very being
The time came for the glimmer of hope to shine
Angel voice filled the sky
But not many heard or saw
Just a few bedraggled, coarse working men, unaccustomed to miracles and light and hope.
Yet, because they weren’t expecting it
Because they were not holy men, wise men, educated men the miracle was all the more beautiful
And in their simplicity they were able to see beyond
Beyond the dark pit of fear and squalor into the glorious brilliant hope:
A tiny baby
God made human
The light shone, and the darkness could not overcome it.
And here we are, two thousand years later
Still there are people under the power of oppression
Still there are people fleeing, undertaking risky journeys; all in the hope of new life, new beginnings and a faint hope of something better for those they love.
Still there are people dying at the hands of persecutors, bullies, tyrants and still the strong use their power to take advantage of the poor and less able.
Still there are those who respond too:
The ones who offer shelter – however meagre
The ones who witness the light – however dim
The ones who believe in a miracle birth – however unlikely
The ones who allow in the light – however reluctantly
And the light continues to shine
And the darkness will not overpower it.
|Winter sun, through the trees (c) JW 2010|