As always, I am indebted to the scholarship of John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg whose book The First Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving! You can listen to the sermon here
For those looking for a different approach to Advent 4B check out the sermon posted here
Some have said that it was the most amazing birth story ever told. This birth narrative heralded the arrival of a child who was praised as the Son of God, the Saviour of the World who was said to be the personification of peace on earth; God incarnate; fully divine and fully human. Not everyone agrees that this is the most amazing birth story ever told. Among the ancients, some insisted that the story Alexander the Great’s birth was the greatest story every told.
Alexander the Great’s birth story is truly one of the greats. His was, after all the, son of a Queen and a god and a king. His mother, Olympias was a Queen, betrothed to Philip of Macedonia. The night before they were married, Queen Olympias dreamed that a thunderbolt fell upon her body, which kindled a great fire, whose divided flames dispersed themselves all around her, and then as if by magic they were extinguished. Philip dreamed that he sealed up his Queen’s lady parts with a seal which bore the impression of a lion. The high priests who interpreted the dream warned Philip not to even entertain the idea of consummating the marriage because one wouldn’t go to the trouble of sealing up something that was empty. So Queen Olympias must already be with child, who would undoubtedly be a boy with the courage of a lion. If that wasn’t enough to put Philip off he found a serpent lying beside Queen Olympias as se slept, which was said to have abated his passion. Later the oracle of Apollo at Delphi went on to explain that this was no ordinary serpent, no this was the incarnation of the God Zeus.
The day that Alexander the Great was born, one of the seven wonders of the world burnt to the ground. The temple of the goddess Artemis in Ephesus was the home of the Goddess Artemis who was said to have been attending to the birth of Alexander at the time. Alexander the Great was heralded as the Son of God and Saviour of the World and as one of the greatest warriors the world has ever known, he went on to conquer a good portion of the planet. But by the time our hero was born, the glory days of the Greeks had long since passed. The Empire of Rome had replaced the Greeks as rulers of the world and they had the conquered lands to prove it. By the time our hero was born, Julius Caesar had established an Empire the likes of which the world had never seen before. Gaius Julius’ prowess on the battlefield was matched only by his cunning in the senate and together had one him the title of Caesar. But as great and marvellous a leader as Julius Caesar may have been, history tells us that he and his wife were not blessed with children. Alas, Caesar did have a son by virtue of his dalliance with Cleopatra but that’s another story all together; suffice it to say, that that little fellow didn’t stand a chance against the one Julius would appoint as his heir. Born to Julius Caesar’s niece, little Octavian was eventually adopted as his great-uncle’s heir apparent who eventually amassed powers that far outshone his illustrious uncle’s. Continue reading