In the year 4 B.C., the brutal King Herod was the puppet King of Israel. The Romans were the ones who were really in control in the ancient land of Israel. King Herod and the High Priest Caiaphas ruled at the pleasure of the Roman Governor Quirinius. The people of Israel lived lives of despair. There was the constant threat of war. Oppression in place of freedom. A tax rate of nearly 80% for those who were able to find work. Unemployment was high. There were beggars at the gates of every city. People were hungry. Violence and crime were widespread. Families were torn apart. And the church seemed out of touch with the day to day sufferings of the people.
But the people of Israel still remembered the promises of the prophets concerning a Messiah, a great King from the line of David, who would come and establish a Kingdom of right and justice. The people dreamed of peace, and joy and salvation. They dreamed of a Savior. And they dared to hope. But as the years passed, and their despair grew, the prophecies seemed to be just an impossible dream …but then…into the gloom and despair and fear and hopelessness God came in the form of a baby, His Son, Jesus Christ. And the hopes and fears of all the years intersected in Bethlehem on one miraculous night. And the impossible dream became real.
Now more than 2,000 years later, the world is once more in chaos and turmoil. A world at war, terrorists at home and abroad. Hope often turns to despair. Starvation. Homelessness. Disease. Violence in the streets of our cities. This year, do we dare to dream that God will do it again?