Monday, December 1, 2014
the miraculous in the midst of the mundane...
As our Israeli tour bus drove toward Bethlehem, I began to wonder, what would it have been like for Joseph and Mary as they approached Bethlehem 20 centuries ago? Was the five-mile stretch of road from Jerusalem as bustling as it is today? What did they see? What did they hear?
As we approach the town, we notice all the terraced olive groves, which march up the dry hills like steps leading to a temple. And then, suddenly, there it is: Bethlehem, the ancient "House of Bread"--clinging to a ridge as if clinging to history itself. O, little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Naturally, no one can be sure exactly where Jesus' birth occurred in Bethlehem, but you just know that, wherever the exact spot, it couldn't have been far away. That thought alone pierces through all the touristy glitz and fairly takes your breath away in anticipation.
Standing in the city of Bethlehem, looking out on the Shepherd's Fields I can just imagine the heavens opening up and the angels descending and shouting, Glory to God in the highest, unto to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord. When the shepherds in the field were surprised by the appearances of the angel and the heavenly host, their initial terror quickly turned to joy. Just as the angel had said, they found the baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. For these simple men with open hearts, it was a process of surprise, shock, fear, disbelief, hope, trust, confirmation, and finally indescribable joy! Joy at seeing the Christ child. Joy at having been singled out for the unique honor of being present at the very moment in history when God came near. Joy at having witnessed the one birth that gives meaning to all other births.
When Mary heard those first cries of divine life wrapped in human flesh, any thought of disappointment must surely have turned into immeasurable peace and joy! Even His name, Emmanuel, "El" means "God," the rest of the word means"with us," the "with us God." He created us to be with us. He gave each of us a longing for Him by creating every single human being with a "with" need. While the world carried on unconcerned, the infant Emmanuel cooed and kicked and toddled His way to His feet. God, the Immortal Invisible, walked among His people, Israel, as they sojourned through the wilderness. But not until now did His invisible feet sink into the sand, shod with skin, making visible prints. And God was with us. Emmanuel.
What do we learn from the unlikely circumstances of Jesus' birth, but that our God is a God of surprises. How He delights in bringing us unexpected joy! How many times have we seen God most clearly in the middle of a crisis? How many times have we discovered the miraculous in the midst of the mundane?
Take a few moments to enjoy this beautiful rendition of O Little Town of Bethlehem by Kari Jobe...
Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!
Linking up with Holley Gerth and Heather Faria as an encourager.