O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
(Lyrics and Music by Lewis Henry Redner and Phillips Brooks)
I read the following summary of Bethlehem: “Bethlehem is a story about a humble couple who loved God, going on an unwanted journey, at an inconvenient time to visit a tiny insignificant town where God chose to send His love.”
Why not Jerusalem – the seat of religious power?
Or why not Rome – the centre of political power?
Why not Athens – the centre of intellectual power?
Because God was sending a message.
A message that our hope is not in religion, politics or philosophy. Rather, our hope is in a Saviour.
This Christmas could become a Bethlehem moment for you.
Bethlehem. A tiny, unimportant, insignificant town. A place of potential. Do you relate?
Do you feel like Bethlehem? Tiny? Insignificant? Unimportant? God is sending you a message. He doesn’t see you for what you are. Rather, He sees you for what you can become.
The baby born in a manger represents hope. A fresh start. A new world. With different values. It’s accomplished through salvation and forgiveness. Not through a political coup or violent protest. Rather it is achieved through love and kindness. Compassion and caring. Grace and mercy.
Bethlehem. A place of inconvenience.
It was not exactly featured in travel brochures and heralded as one of the top 10 tourist destinations. You didn’t travel there unless you absolutely had to. And that is the plight of Joseph and Mary.
Why were they going to Bethlehem? To register. For what? A government order. A census. The emperor demanded that everyone go to their hometowns and register so he could count the citizens in his empire.
Are we living in a year of inconvenience? Well, to be blunt, there are other words you might choose to describe 2020.
Pause for a moment. What if the government order had not been issued? What if a pregnant young lady and her husband chose not to travel to Bethlehem? What about years of prophetic promises foretelling this very event?
No. In the midst of incredible inconvenience, the best event history has witnessed unfolded.
Not in Caesar’s palace. Not in Herod’s court. Not in the capital city. In Bethlehem.
Could this Christmas become a Bethlehem moment for you? That in the midst of incredible inconvenience, we witness some of the most extraordinary and magnificent events ever witnessed. Not necessarily in blazing splendour but in small, simple gestures. Easy to miss.
But in this season, they stand out as bright as the star that led the wisemen to the place where Jesus was.
Don’t miss the moment. Recognize beauty in simplicity. Jesus born for you.
Rick Gay is the pastor of Summerland Alliance Church.