"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Birth of Jesus
Beginning of Good News
Luke 2:1-14 [15-20] Commentary
by Elisabeth Johnson
Luke's infancy narrative sets the humble birth of Jesus against the backdrop of a mighty empire and powerful rulers.1
While Caesar Augustus orchestrates an empire-wide census, the seemingly insignificant birth of a baby to peasant parents unfolds in the rural Palestinian village of Bethlehem.
The "Roman Peace"
Caesar Augustus -- whose name means revered or exalted one -- ended a long period of war in the Roman Empire and was hailed as a prince of peace, the savior of the world. With his reign began the Pax Romana, or "Roman Peace." Under his rule, the economy was booming and Rome was rebuilt more glorious than before -- with temples, arenas, public baths, and forums. A system of roads was built across the empire. Images of the Emperor and the Roman gods filled Rome and all major cities of the empire, proclaiming "Caesar is Lord" and extolling his rule of peace and prosperity.
Beneath the emperor's polished public image, however, was a much darker reality. Augustus brutally murdered any perceived enemies. He achieved peace in the empire by suppressing human rights and liberties. Receiving the benefits ...
| Bible Text
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
2020-21 Worship Resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 387: Birth of Jesus
December 24, 2019
Podcast on the Narrative Lectionary readings for Dec. 24, 2019, (Birth of Jesus) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.