It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Date: Dec 9, 2018

Author: Alan Hau

Speaker: Dr. Jeff

Passage: Luke 3:1-6


The spirit of Advent centers around our preparation for Christmas, the Nativity of Jesus. Our hearts and minds need to open up so we can allow the holy spirit to guide us, especially given the turbulent political climate during Jesus’ lifetime. Scriptures from events surrounding John the Baptist and Mary’s Magnificat are great examples of the public’s inner psyche and their yearning for justice.

John the Baptist

The author(s) of Luke began the chapter with many political implications. There were tetrarchs and puppet governors elected by the Romans to rule over the Jews at that time. There were priests in a ruling class collaborating with the governors to maintain their power and to keep revolutionaries like Jesus under control. John saw the complexity in society, where we unavoidably taking advantage of one another in the name of survival. The answers to true justice is not binary and more often than not, we fall into a grey area (Luke 3:11-14). The greater solution lies within our individual repentance. There is work cut out for all of us, so we become aware of the effects of our actions within society. With this consciousness, we walk our individual paths in life and control when “[t]he crooked roads shall become straight” (Luke 3:5)

The Magnificat

This is a canticle or song by Mary (Luke: 1:46-55) where she glorifies the Lord for letting her give birth to Jesus. It is a song that sends the message of hope to those who are powerless and a warning to those who are rich and powerful. As a female without political power, Mary herself was a lowly character; someone the masses can relate to in times of oppression. She sang about her experience of God and the reversal of roles in the society; the rich and the poor will soon switch places. “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” (Luke 1:52). This is the kind of transformation Jesus will bring to the world.

In the Wilderness

The theme of being in the wilderness is significant in the Bible. Many important events happened in the desolate wilderness where no one is there to help but God. In the Book of Exodus, the Jews escaped from Egypt and drifted in the wild for 40 years. Their everyday survival and sustenance is dependant on God. King David’s formative years (1 Samuel) are in the deserty wilderness. Although he was fleeing from persecution, he also met his wife, Abigial, and it was an intimate time when he lamented and longed for the closeness of God the most (Psalm 63:1).

The wilderness does not have to be a physical desert. A city like Hong Kong where we are bombarded with tasks and daily chores can also remove us from a conscious relationship with God. How the society encourages vice and greed diminutizes our personal spiritual experiences. The wilderness that manifests within our hearts is real and it takes its ultimate toll.

The year ahead will be full of challenges locally and internationally, from global protectionism as popularized by Trump, to the tightening of free speech in Hong Kong. Paradoxical but true, the terrible times give us the best moments to find God and build a relationship with Him.