“O little town of Bethlehem how still we see the lie.”
So goes the opening line of the lovely carol we have been singing since our childhood. In our minds eye, Bethlehem provides the romantic setting for the first Christmas morn, with the trappings of a stable, an expectant mother, shepherds on the hills, angel voices and unexpected visitors from the East. But I cannot help wonder if the actual scene was entirely romantic. We recall that there was no room apart from a cattle barn for the birth of God’s Son; that there was a jealous king who immediately wanted to get rid of the Child; soon after the holy family would become refugees in a foreign land.
Bethlehem was the place where God entered our world with all its tensions and clamour, but it was also the place He entered human hearts and began to turn our lives around in a who
le new way. To do so, means God didn’t start on the outside but from within. He begins in the hidden place of a mother’s womb. He goes to the forgotten places, a stable in an obscure province of the Roman empire. The opening scene is so unpretentious with an inn keeper, a few shepherds, a pregnant woman who wasn’t even a statistic on a Roman census, and her husband whom we know very little about.
As we prepare for Christmas, may we be reminded of the hidden places, the forgotten places, and the so-called little people with whom God meets.
The world is full of small places where God has worked His will through the lives of ordinary people. And it is right where we are, in the street where we live, among the people we meet, through the things we do and the people we are that He brings the light of His glory. Let us not forget, everywhere and at all times He Is Emmanuel, God with us.
Joy and peace to you all