When You Feel Like a Number

Luke 2:1-7 (NKJV)

1     And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

2     This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.

3     So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

4     Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

5     to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

6     So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.

7     And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

2 Samuel 24:1-4, 9-10 (NKJV)

1     Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

2     So the king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Now go throughout all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and count the people, that I may know the number of the people.”

3     And Joab said to the king, “Now may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?”

4     Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab and against the captains of the army. Therefore Joab and the captains of the army went out from the presence of the king to count the people of Israel.

9     Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to the king. And there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

10   And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”

Numbers 1:1-4 (NRSV)

1     The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying:

2     Take a census of the whole congregation of Israelites, in their clans, by ancestral houses, according to the number of names, every male individually;

3     from twenty years old and upward, everyone in Israel able to go to war. You and Aaron shall enroll them, company by company.

4     A man from each tribe shall be with you, each man the head of his ancestral house.

Psalm 147:4 (NKJV) – He counts the number of the stars, He calls them all by name.

The Christmas Story Census

  • A story of power
    • A story of disruption
    • A story of social policy
    • A story of the grace of God despite everything

The Danger of Taking a Census: Reductionism

  • Military Statistics   
    • Political Statistics
    • Taxation Statistics

The problem:

  • Creating collective nouns
    • Categories
      • Employees  Voters
      • Consumers  Soldiers
      • Taxpayers   
    • Preserving the image of God
      • Counting
      • “Lift the head”
    • Naming versus “Categorizing:” We name the things we love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.