Christmas Under Construction – Devotions for your Advent Season
“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
Last summer, I lived for a month within a 10 minute walk from the town of Bethlehem. The walk is far from simple these days in and out of Bethlehem. There are guards and checkpoints. Then there is “the wall” seen as a wall of security from the perspective of the Jews and as a wall of imprisonment from the perspective of the Palestinians. Bethlehem these days is neither little, peaceful or silent as the hymn may suggest. But here is the truth. Neither was it on the day Jesus was born. The mention of King Herod would have struck fear, anxiety and hatred from the Jewish people. He was a tyrant who thought nothing of killing family members or little children if that was what it took to stay in power and control. When Mary and Joseph were required to travel to Bethlehem, there was little peace to be found.
So, isn’t it interesting that of all the places for the Christ to be born, it is there in Bethlehem? There, God gives the gift of his son who becomes the hope of the hopeless, the comfort to those who suffer, and the strength to those who are oppressed. There, God comes to remind us we are not alone in our struggles and that indeed God has come to live among us to help us, to lead us, to save us from ourselves. The glad tidings of Christmas come to those who need God most, when we are ready to receive it. As the hymns says, “where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.”
Amongst the many gifts of Christmas, may you and I be ready to receive this gift of gifts from God. No matter your circumstance this morning, may the gift of Christ fill you with joy this day and for all the years to come. Merry Christmas!
Prayer: Gift-giving God, we thank you for the gifts of faith, hope, peace and love you offer us on Christmas. May that love abide in our hearts, so that even as this day comes to an end, we are able to return to our ordinary lives with your gift that lasts. May the joy and spirit of Christmas stay with us now and forever. Amen.