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Having left July, named after Julius Caesar in 44BC, we enter August – named after Augustus, of course. That’s him on the right.

Augustus was born Gaius Octavius, as was his father who had been Governor of Macedonia. He came to Julius Caesar’s notice after he had been put in charge of the Greek Games in 46BC, and then so impressed Caesar that he was formally adopted as his son and was named as his heir and the major beneficiary of his will. Julius Caesar was of course assassinated on the Ides of March 44BC, and Gaius eventually succeeded him. By 27BC, the Senate had given him new names – Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus – so as well as the Caesar he was the first Emperor; the name Augustus means great and worthy; and Divi Filius actually means ‘Son of God’ – which he could claim because Julius Caesar had been posthumously declared to have been a god!

After an eventful reign, Augustus died in 14AD. One of the events we remember is that he was on the throne at the time of Jesus’ birth, as stated in Luke Chapter 2 verse 1.

Jesus, even as a baby, was a threat to the Romans, because the Wise Men had declared that he would be a King, and Herod, in charge of the Roman state of Judea, tried to have him killed. He grew to be a threat to Jews too, as many couldn’t accept that he could be the Messiah (Saviour) whom they had been expecting for so long. And imagine how the Romans reacted when Jesus was declared to be the Son of God – that was the Emperor’s title!

The life of Jesus was firmly rooted in the politics as well as the religion of those times. He preached and answered questions on matters of obedience to the authorities and paying taxes, and was obedient to the end of his life on earth – including his Roman execution. Neither can we avoid the politics and religion of the modern world, as we seek to be part of an ordered, moral world. We can ignore politics, but we are still governed – and we can ignore religion, but God exists and his kingdom will endure when earthly kingdoms cease.

I see the value of being involved in both religion and politics, in other words being a person of faith and order, as that’s the way to be a positive influence on life around us.

We remember Augustus because his month is on our calendars, mobile phones, newspapers…. and on every date we are reminded of the years which have passed since Jesus was born. It’s good to remember our history, and even better to know the certainty of an eternal future.

Yours in Jesus

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