‘O little town of Bethlehem’, which we visit on a Holy Land tour, leads us to imagine the elements of Jesus’ birth. The census requiring Joseph and Mary to travel a far distance, the overcrowded inn, the remote stable and manger where the Babe is born and cradled. The hillside shepherds, who come to gaze at the infant after seeing a cosmic display of angelic wonder. Then, awhile later, the Magi roll into town bearing gifts fit for a regal birth–gold, frankincense and myrrh. All in that little town of Bethlehem.
Not so tiny any more. Going through walled gates, being checked out by armed military, having to exit our Jewish guide to take on a Palestinian one, we arrive at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, where deep down within is thought to be the birth place of our Lord Jesus. Difficult to verbalize how it feels being in that cave-like area where Jesus probably is born, which Joseph and Mary and those shepherds would have recognized. Stunning. Astounding. Humbling. Jaw-dropping… and much more.
Micah 5: 2-3–‘But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who in in labor has given birth…’ When King Herod grills his religious scholars as to where the Messiah is to be born, they mention that little town of you-know-where (Matt. 2:5-6), quoting Micah again.
As we approach Christmas day, I know that what happens at Jesus’ birth involves no big surprises to God. After all, Micah prophecies of it centuries before, which tells us that all the inconvenience, all the trouble, all the uncertainty, all those disturbing unknowns experienced by Joseph and Mary are all cared for and protected by God the Father. Again, no surprises. No little anything. No last minute decisions. No ‘hail Mary’ pass into Bethlehem’s end-zone.
No. God knows all about our tears and worries. Our fears and failures. Nothing escapes Him. Nothing. Maybe Bethlehem should remind us of the Father’s care and watchfulness. Over us. Even with what seems little, puny, insignificant. Especially then and there.
So, cast your life on Him. All of it. All? That’s right. Okay, I’ll try. Two steps forward, one back. Three back, two forward. You know. But little is much when God is in it. Isn’t it?
Lord Jesus, I put my life today in your hands. Amen.