And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,who was with child.6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. – Luke 2:4-7
Preparing for Christmas Eve services I was struck by a comment about Bethlehem, and Mary and Joseph. The events of Christmas unfold around them in the course of everyday life. Travel. Difficult accommodations. Pregnancy. Shepherds nearby. A sleepy little village just 20 miles outside of Jerusalem. This is where God will do a great thing. This is where God will act.
There’s something worth considering when it comes to Bethlehem, life, and God. We all have our Bethlehem. It may be a cubicle at work. It might be a sewing room, or a home office. It could be your kitchen or your workshop. For some it’s a car or a shed. Those everyday and ordinary things of life are easily dismissed. Familiarity breeds contempt. We’ve been down this road before. We’ve seen that business cycle more than once. We’re not surprised when the computer freezes. We’re sad but not distressed when when the lawn mower wears out.
But what if history is at a turning point? What if this is the moment of God’s providential deliverance and decisive action?
Three was only one Savior born in Bethlehem. There was only one Mary and Joseph. There is only one Son of God. But there are thousands of every-day life situations into which God will insert himself. We may never have the same part to play as Mary and Joseph, but there may be a shepherd, a flight attendant, a restaurant server, or an administrative assistant who needs to see God’s provision. It could be that you or I will have the privilege of showing God’s love. We surely do have the responsibility of being ready to do so when the time comes.
God is quite willing to work in ordinary places in the ordinary times of life with ordinary people. But his work is quite extraordinary. beautiful, gracious, and good. And if we will look for it we will find great joy in seeing his work in and through us.
There is nothing that holds even a candle to what happened in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. But we can get a glimpse of God’s work in our own personal Bethlehem, we will hear the echoes of great joy. For God’s act 2000 years ago is good news of great joy for all people for all time.