On the way into Bethlehem

We parked. The whole family piled out of the van, donned coats and hats, and began to wade through a sea of vehicles. Strains of Jewish music floated over the fence from across the road. Who knew that the local “Bethlehem Village,” hosted by several area churches, drew such a crowd? 

With two littles in the double stroller, we moved quickly before they could start deciding they didn’t like being in the stroller after all. A parking attendant called out, “There’s a place to cross the road about half way down.”

We found the place he mentioned, a wooden stairway that descended to the road. Our crew started to navigate the steps, double stroller and all. Two more parking attendants greeted us.

Suddenly, one of them commented, “Haven’t ya’ll figured out what causes this yet?”  Steve, in an uncharacteristically quick response, replied, “Yes, we have. The Lord.” And he pointed up. (He unknowingly pointed toward the bright beam of light coming from the giant spotlight that was representing the star of Bethlehem shining over the town.) As the stroller landed on the bottom step, the man replied, “Just wait about 15 years, and you’ll wish you hadn’t!”stockings Later, as Steve and I briefly discussed the man’s comments, so brashly made in front of our whole crew, ages 17 and down, we were suddenly struck by the irony of the whole situation.

{Ok. Let’s pause for a side note. We all know that large families (or even families with a few small children) get comments like these. It comes with the territory. I mean no ill will towards that parking attendant. He meant no harm. He’s probably just an unwitting victim of our culture. I am probably an unwitting victim of our culture too, in many areas. Comments from strangers are not the point of this blog post, at all. We need to move forward. I only want to use his remarks as an illustration. An illustration about missing the point of Christmas; missing what God is doing.}

So, back to what I was saying. It seems that, perhaps, on the fourth night of the Bethlehem village, the poor parking attendant had failed to take in the wonder and meaning of the very event that he was volunteering to help celebrate.

The birth of a Baby.

oholynightChristmas, fundamentally, is about God at work in the lives of people. The true and living God is still at work in lives today, thousands of years later. The outworking of His plan may look very different in each individual life and family. I don’t think we comprehend the true Christmas story very well, if we don’t realize that God often works in ways that might seem weird or odd in our own small opinions. Ways that might actually make us uncomfortable. Each one of us, as we follow Christ, “has our hands full” figuring out what God wants us to do, and then doing it.

Those who realized that God was at work, during that first Christmas, welcomed that Baby with open arms.

Think about dear Mary and Joseph. I wonder what comments they may have endured from people who had absolutely no idea that God was working in THE biggest way imaginable! What looks and comments might they have gotten as that young man and very pregnant girl came into town for the census? Can you just imagine….“Timed this well, didn’t you?” (Well actually sir, God timed it….)cardsSo often I find myself so quick to express my own small opinions. Haven’t I learned by now that God’s plan often doesn’t look the way I think it should, in my life or in anyone else’s? 

This Christmas season, and always, let us be so careful not to miss the point of what God is doing.  Let us have ears to hear and eyes to see our God at work. He speaks in a still, small voice. He calls us out of our comfort zones and into His Grand Plan.

May we respond with courage and with a willing heart, like Mary. “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) nativity

4 thoughts on “On the way into Bethlehem

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