The Old Testament reading for During the Night (Isaiah) is all about the Messiah, the Christ. It echoes God’s promises to David. Isaiah talks about what the Christ will do, and calls him all sorts of impressive things.
The Gospel for During the Night (Luke) opens with a reference to Caesar. Why? Back then, that’s how they kept track of dates. It’s like saying something happened when Lincoln was President.
Okay, but why bring this up now? Because this is an actual event, and that's when it happened. Christmas isn’t “once upon a time.”
There’s another reason why the powerful get mentioned - stark contrast. The one who fulfills all of the impressive things in Isaiah comes not as an emperor, but as the child of poor travelers – and the point is clear. God with us (which is what Emmanuel means) is God with all of us.
And the Gospel for At Dawn? It’s the back half of the Gospel for During the Night. More on this tomorrow.