Head Count

Once every ten years, we take a head count in America. I think most other countries do the same. Governments want to know stuff like how many, of what type of people, live where and do what. Educational achievement is good to know as are incomes, religious persuasion and race.

Politicians love them or hate them depending on where Republicans or Democrats moved and where the districts will get re-drawn. Alot is at stake when you count heads. Governments want to know who is out there.

Once data is collected, reports are published and trends are indicated. "By the year 20__, we will have more of these type of people than those type of people." Interesting stuff to at least glance at. I think people want to know a bit about what they are part of. "My country, city, town will have x million people by 2010!" It is part of our identity.

Caesar Augustus thought it was a good idea. He must have been a big picture guy with an extraordinary attention to detail. He said, "I want to know how many people are in the entire Roman world!" So the count began.

If you are a good statistician, you know people (or things) can't be moving as you try to count them. Everyone needs to "stand still" for a minute. In those days that meant, go to your home town.

You may know the next part of the story. Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem. The count begins. And somewhere, some statistician, maybe just as he is wrapping up his tallies, cross checking his numbers, and totalling his columns, has someone come to him and say, "There are two more in a stable. No wait...three. Three more. One a baby. Just one more baby..." The statistician probably added the names, rolled up his scroll, filed it with Quirinius, and thought nothing of it. Just a baby.

Alot changes when you count heads and every head counts. Even yours, because that baby that was born in Bethlehem now resides in those who believe. Strange, mysterious and wonderful.

One day there will be another headcount taken. As the old hymn says, "When the roll is called up yonder...." Just like in Bethlehem, people like us will be called home so the Governor can count. Governments want to know who is out there.

We can look forward to that headcount this season as we look back to the one Caesar initiated. The one that included just one more baby. Blessings