“O Little town of Bethlehem…”
And it was.
Today, it bustles with tourists, gawkers and hawkers of trinkets, challenging one to picture Bethlehem as the humble birthplace of Jesus.
And yet, God, picked Bethlehem, saw it then and now, as He does us.
Bethlehem, lures me centuries before Christmas to the story of Ruth and Naomi in the Bible.(Ruth 1-4) Two widow women, Ruth and Naomi, hope for something more as they travel to the small village of Bethlehem, a place of old memories for Naomi and just maybe, new beginnings for Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law.
Dreams soon turn to the dust of barley fields and Ruth finds herself picking up the dregs, doing the best she can, planting one sandal in front of the other, hoping for the best.
And the Best did come to and through her. (You must read the story. It’s a bestseller.)
Centuries later a man named Phillips Brooks penned, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
His lyrics combined with Old and New Testament passages, remind us during dark times, in whatever barley fields we scratch out a living, God has hidden a glorious yet. “Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Last Saturday night, Maggie, Poco, Zoe Reid and I sat at table. Maggie and Zoe were at odds over something and sensitive Poco picked up on it.
Suddenly Poco said, “Momo, tell the Oatmeal story.”
It’s my Mama’s story, one she and I’ve told for many years at Christmas. I didn’t think Poco, the youngest grandchild, knew the story, but she did. At several points, she turned to Zoe and said,”Wait ’til you hear this. You’re gonna love it!”
At the story’s end, all are aware God showed up in Canada one Christmas long ago.
After a few seconds of quiet, Zoe said, “Would you like to hear my faith story?”
And we did.
Then Zoe shared how God answered one of her prayers.
Small gathering of children, four of us, ranging from 7 to 77 years of age, sharing God stories on a Saturday night.
Each of us, like Ruth, on our way to Bethlehem, seeking, longing for more than we know, more than meets the eye.
And Jesus for whom small matters, speaks to our fears, hopes and dreams saying, “Wait ’til you hear this. You’re gonna love it!”
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