December 16, 2010
“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was Governor of Syria.” (Luke 2:1-2)
Registrations were important in Jesus’ day, as it was a way to keep track of people within ancient Palestine. During this season, we celebrate the long journey made by Joseph and the expectant Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem to make good on this registration decree.
Our context also links us to another registration occurring in Egypt: the Sudanese referendum. Our friends and neighbors from Sudan also are making their way to places of registration, discussing with community leaders the upcoming realities in Sudan, and looking hopefully toward the possible creation of a new African nation. Fiona Cameron, StARS Program Director for the Children’s Education Program, recently returned from south Sudan. She shared the great enthusiasm people feel for the possibilities laid before them. While tremendous hope exists, all Sudanese are cognizant of the conflicted and sometimes violent history of their diverse nation.
Related to the referendum, Intern Pastor Paul and I attended an evening prayer service last night to pray for Sudan. We prayed for the south. We prayed for the north. We prayed for Egypt. We prayed for political leaders present at the gathering. We prayed for a peaceful referendum process; no war between peoples. A common call heard at the prayer meeting was “Sudan for Jesus!” As Prince of Peace, we prayed that God would bring peace, reconciliation and hope to all the people in Sudan.
Advent is a time of hope. We hope for the promises of God in Christ to come again: love, forgiveness, humble service and salvation. As we join our Sudanese friends in prayer this Advent season, we are reminded squarely of the tangible need for hope in our world. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Bring hope and peace to our Sudanese neighbors and our world.
Pastor Peter Johnson