St Andrew's Church

Your Community, Your Church

A Soduku Christmas

By Rowland Bareham for Carols by Candlelight 18th Dec 2016

I want to tell you a story, this evening, from a civil servant’s perspective.

I do the Times Sudoku Puzzle and some of them can be very hard and I can look at a puzzle all day long, but on occasions I get a kind of eureka moment and come to a realisation that there is a way of solving a particular puzzle.

Well, the other night, after a long day, I was in bed trying to finish off the Times Sudoku Puzzle (the super fiendish one), I must have nodded off.  I had a dream, I dreamt that I was a civil servant for the Roman authorities, in Bethlehem, some 2,016 years ago, there I was in the office trying to do the Roman equivalent of the Times Sudoku Puzzle when my line manager came in (I hurriedly put away the puzzle).

My line manager said to me ‘The Roman Emperor Augustus has ordered a census for all the towns including the descendants of David in Bethlehem, and I am getting together a working group to plan and carry out the census.  I’m looking for volunteers’.  After many years of experience in the civil service, I have grown weary of what to volunteer for, but I remember that I have my annual performance appraisal coming up, and it does look good to have done some work, so I agree to join the census working group.

There is much to do with the planning of the census with little time to do the Roman equivalent of the Times Sudoku Puzzle.  There are many stakeholders involved – there is the parts of the Roman authorities such as the army to keep good security (for there will be many coming into the town of Bethlehem), there will be the Temple authorities to deal with and lastly but not least, there will be King Herod to deal with.

The census planning went well and now the census is underway.  Daily reports are coming in of the huge numbers coming into the town of Bethlehem.  There are huge numbers including shepherds from the hills who are not used to the urban way of things – they will need to be watched by the army who are keeping good security.  All the B&B places are full.

One day, a report comes in of a star – a moving star.  I think that this is very unusual.  But it has nothing to do with the census so I don’t give it any further thought, although there are plenty of people who are intrigued with this moving star.  A few days later, another report comes that tells of the star stopping altogether!  I think that this is not only very unusual but unheard of!  I decided that I would investigate.

I asked people in the crowd ‘Where has the star stopped?’  The reply was ‘over there at the bottom of the hill, at an inn there’.  I went to the bottom of the hill and using my authority as a Roman, I made my way through the crowds and went to the stable behind the inn.  There was a peasant girl and her husband (who was a carpenter), their names turned out to be Mary and Joseph, and there was a new born baby wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.  There were three wise men offering gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Sometimes, you have a moment when you know that something special is happening.  This was such a moment – a kind of eureka moment – when you realise that the baby in the manager was not an ordinary baby, but a special baby.  The baby’s name was Jesus, a Saviour, who was and is the Messiah and the Lord.  For this was God who had come as a human being, as a baby not in a wealthy place but in the lowliest of circumstances – in a stable at an inn.  This baby is fully human and yet also is fully God.  Quite simply, He had come to change everything.

[LOUD GASP] I woke up with a start!  The Times Sudoku Puzzle was still there on my bed unfinished.  I thought ‘What a dream’ – that dream of folks back then having a kind of eureka moment and realising that there was something anew; and now being transformed to a reality today of where I know that the baby in the manager was not an ordinary baby, but a special baby.  The baby’s name was Jesus, a Saviour, who was and is the Messiah and the Lord.  He had come to change everything.  Amen.


Contact

Rev'd Chris Ramsey
Tel: 01787 376 293
Email: vicar@standrews-gc.org.uk.
Further contact details can be found under the "About us" menu

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