Triumphs Technology Through The Centuries, Celebrating Christ's
Conception Called Christmas!”
By Kristen Agnew
Agnew's Analysis: Dec
Ever wonder why "what you know" is often
less important than "who you know?"
Our society thrives on knowledge, especially this time of year. The
December issue of Fortune magazine features the "2010 Investor's
Guide" and includes housing market predictions, All-Star stock
pickers, 401(K) advice, and China's boom over the past year.
Online, the Amazon.com advertizes its Free
SuperSaver Shipping: Buy now to receive your gift by Dec. 25!
Meanwhile, News sources follow every move of Congress in the
impending health care vote.
We are constantly inundated with information, some of which we want
to know, and some--well, enough said. I enjoy learning about global
economics, ground-breaking national policy, and even how I can save
money on Christmas (Holiday) shopping. Sometimes I just wish I had
the choice of when and when not to digest this information.
Google's system might work for e-mail: Label the messages in your
Gmail Inbox, and then you can come back to them later. Still, this
requires some work and processing on your part.
Do we have the mental energy?
What was that statistic about how much our
minds process, compared to what people were exposed to 100 years
Was it our year to their lifetime?
I suddenly need a massage, some hot tea, or
how about a vacation?
Let's go back 2000 years ago.
A census is taking place-- no Google maps,
no GPS, no online tax services (!)
Mary and Joseph are required to travel on
foot (or as legend has it, a donkey) to Bethlehem (get
where I'm going with this? Hold on...)
Mary sighs, "Joseph, I wish we could afford a camel."
"Sorry, dear, this mule is all the neighbor had."
"Why is Rome so dominant? Don't they
care about my health, and that of our unborn child?"
"I'm with you dear, but it's just a month's trip. We'll be back to
Nazareth in no time..." (note: He didn't know about the Egypt
detour just yet!)
So far, this sounds kind of familiar. Given modern time and locale,
the conversation might go something like this:
Mary, in the car: "I wish we could fix the window. I don't like that
Joseph: "Me neither, love. After what the neighborhood vandals did,
that's all the dealer could do."
Mary: "Why does Congress take so long
to make a decision? My baby's not going
to wait for us to be insured..."
OK, this may be a stretch. Nevertheless, imagine with me the
birthplace and time of Jesus. Even then, information was hot:
the governor wanted a census of the entire empire!
Major political figures:
Caesar Augustus, King Herod, Syrian Governor Quirinius
(see Luke 2:1-2)
Judea (Eastern border of the Mediterranean Sea)
Nazareth (where Mary and Joseph lived), Bethlehem (where they must
register, since Joseph is a descendant of David)
Zechariah (priest) and Elizabeth (mother of John, see
Luke 1:36, 40, 57-60).
For more extensive genealogies, see Jesus' family line in New
Testament books Luke 3:23-38 and
So Mary and Joseph make the trek to Bethlehem, only to find that
there's nowhere to sleep! (Sounds like our holiday time in
What are they going to do?
I think you know the rest.
Was it a cave, a stable, or a barn?
A place where animals were kept and fed,
housed Jesus' parents when they arrived.
I'm not sure which "politically incorrect" aspect of the Christmas
story I like the best:
1) the fact that shepherds, who were regarded as the least reputable
in society, were the first to announce Jesus' birth
2) Joseph's threat to divorce Mary when he
first heard that she was "with child
from the Holy Spirit" (see Matthew 1:19)
3) They still weren't married when they went to Bethlehem, and she
was obviously pregnant (though legally engaged,
see Luke 2:5)
4) The Wise Men following the star to give gifts to their predicted
King, then ignoring Herod's orders to tell him about it, because of
These details remind me of 1
Corinthians 1:27-28, in which the
Apostle Paul writes: "God chose what is
foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in
the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in
the world, even things that are not, to bring nothings things that
Poetic, isn't it?
Why would God do this?
"So that no human being might boast in the
presence of God" (v. 29).
At this time of year, we are reminded that our society seeks great
wealth, whether it is the most cunningly balanced investment
portfolio, the best healthcare deal, the newest cell phone, or the
quantity of knowledge that we can acquire through that next degree
(or just Wikipedia).
Let's just remember, it's who you know, in
the end, that really matters.
In Isaiah 55:1-3, God speaks: "Come,
everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money;
come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without
price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and
your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently
to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live."
(English Standard Version)
What are you looking for?
Personally, I want my romantic relationship
to work out. I want a faster computer. I want a better workout
schedule. These things are not easily fulfilled through a wish list.
Our search is not just a monetary quest.
And still, He is calling to us: "Come
to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly
in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew
Might the King of Kings be speaking to
Is He listening to your prayers?
Does He care?
I think we find our answer again in chapter
55 of Isaiah's book: "Seek the Lord
while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; Let the
wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let
him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to
our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7)
Kristen Agnew is a
graduate student and a cell group leader
of Living Acts which is part of Oakland International Fellowship, the
English congregation for Pittsburgh Chinese Church-Oakland!