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Truth Triumphs Technology Through The Centuries, Celebrating Christ's Conception Called Christmas!”

By Kristen Agnew
Staff Writer

Agnew's Analysis:
23, 2009

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 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 ago?

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 whistling sound..."

Joseph: "Me neither, love. After what the neighborhood vandals did, that's all the dealer could do."

"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)

Political center:

Local occupancy:
Judea (Eastern border of the Mediterranean Sea)

Key towns:
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 Matthew 1.

So Mary and Joseph make the trek to Bethlehem, only to find that there's nowhere to sleep! (Sounds like our holiday time in airports!)

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 a dream!

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 are...."

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 11:28-29, ESV)

Might the King of Kings be speaking to you, tonight?

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! 

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Agnew on Video:

“Actively AIV Students Serve Offering OIF's Mercy Ministry Momentum!  (April 19, 10, 9:57 a.m.) By Ramesh C. Reddy

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