Christmas Story – 2014
Bethlehem. Besides sounding like a tasty french sandwich, this small community plays a dramatic role in the Christmas story. It shouldn’t. It should for the sake of all reasonableness be just another small town that no one has ever really heard of and certainly one that no one cares about. Sort of like the city of Tomato, Arkansas. Which could also be the name of a tasty sandwich. Bethlehem, it was divinely appointed and supernaturally orchestrated that Joseph and Mary would be in Bethlehem for the birth of the Savior of the world. You know you’re insignificant, when the bible says, you’re insignificant. And the bible talks about the insignificance and smallness of the city of Bethlehem. It was small, it was rural, less than 700 people resided there, but for a savior, for a short time, it was home. Bethlehem. It had all of the allure and grandeur of the Port Charlotte Shopping Mall. But hopefully it wasn’t as depressing. Bethlehem, the Walmart of cities. When God chose a place to introduce himself to the world, he chose Bethlehem. Not Rome. Not Rome with its world dominance and its royalty and towering theaters. Not Jerusalem. Not Jerusalem with its religious dominance and its Temple and its high priests. Most stars search for Bright Lights and a Big City, but not the Christmas Star. The Christmas star settled over frumpy and in need of a makeover Bethlehem. This speaks to me. It speaks to everyone who is searching for significance. Most of us weren’t born into stardom. Were not like that baby that was born to celebrity parents and now already has more followers on Instagram than me. What a jerk. Most of us weren’t born with significance. We have to search for it. Bethlehem had no significance of its own, and it wasn’t really searching for it. Bethlehem may not have been searching for significance, but significance came searching for Bethlehem. It’s the beauty of the Christmas story, angels singing, wise men searching, a strange rumor buzzing through a small community. Christ is here. Bethlehem now matters for all of eternity.
Mary. A young girl among many young girls in Israel at that time. I’m not for sure what her aspirations for life would have been. I wonder what she thought about when she laid awake at night and dreamed of what her future would be. I bet it didn’t include things like experiencing angelic visitations and getting pregnant by the Holy Ghost. There was, many years ago, a great king in her family. But I’m not for sure what that really did for her now. In a time of have’s and have nots, she was most likely a not. She wasn’t noble, she wasn’t wealthy, and she wasn’t famous. Like Bethlehem, she was small and probably insignificant. The most popularity she had ever experienced was when her number was called at the deli and everyone looked to see who’s turn it was. Mary. From obscurity to the world’s stage for all of time and eternity in 9 months flat. I wonder what her plans were. I wonder what her hobbies and interests would have been. I wonder what she was good at and what she thought her purpose on earth was all about. I’m sure at no point in her young life did she ever think I’m going to become the vessel of God and through me the salvation of the world is going to come to earth. People will sing songs about me and wear bathrobes to pretend to be me for future millenniums. It probably would have come off as a little cocky if she did. Christmas. God chose places and people outside of the world’s focus to tell his story and celebrate his arrival. Christmas. A night time setting, a small town overloaded with weary travelers, an overcrowded Inn, one forgotten couple, and the birth of a child. No phones, No internet, No cameras, No attention paid by the general public, yet here we are 2 millenniums later talking about Bethlehem, Mary, and Christmas.
Enter Jesus. Grace and truth in one long and wonderful embrace. The glory of God in touchable form. The adoration of angels and all created things. Mercy and Justice stirred into one sip. Incorruptible and Eternal Deity perfectly mixed with corruptible and temporal humanity. Enter Jesus. Leaving glory, adoration, and the comfort of home to enter a manger in a small, insignificant place to be held by common hands. To redeem places and people long sense forgotten. To bring purpose far beyond imagination. Enter Jesus. To leave the splendor of heaven’s gates to knock on our front door. To fill common, ordinary lives, with eternal and extraordinary purpose. Enter Jesus. Born in Bethlehem, killed in Jerusalem, and now seated in glory. Enter Jesus. Not just to temples, palaces, and castles, but to Bethlehem. Enter Jesus, not just to the royal, elite, or famous, but to Mary. Enter Jesus. Into every place, into every home, and into every life. Bringing hope, bringing joy, bringing eternal purpose. So we say, welcome Jesus. Welcome to our world, welcome to our home, and welcome to our life. We echo the song of angels, singing, Peace on earth and goodwill toward all men.