Thursday, December 15, 2016

Advent 2016

A Townsperson in Bethlehem


            Our family's home is along the main road into Bethlehem.  People often stop to rest or for a drink of water on their way into town.  Since shepherds pass by our home when coming from the pastures into town, we often get to hear stories about their adventures watching over their sheep.  We are used to the tales about fending off wolves and finding shelter during bad storms.  We enjoy the shepherds' stories even though they get bigger and more exaggerated each time.  But this morning, the shepherds that came by our home had a completely different story to share.  It seemed too incredible to believe.  They told us an angel appeared to them in the fields and said:

Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you:  you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.  Luke 2:10-12 (rsv)

            As we walked into town this morning, you could feel the excitement.  The story from the shepherds had spread and it seemed everyone had heard it.  Everyone was talking about this baby who was born in a stable.  Because so many people had come to town due to the census taking place, his parents could not find anyone with a room available for them.  But now people were fighting over who could take this new family into their home. 

            We decided we had to go see this baby for ourselves.  It was just as the shepherds had described.  A little baby was sleeping in a manger.  His mother was resting while his father fed the animals with whom they were sharing space.  The family, and even the animals, seemed completely at peace in the stable with no urgency of finding a more suitable place.

            We went looking for this baby with a sense of disbelief and wonder.  But being in the presence of him gave us all a feeling of peace that none of us had ever felt before.

            Could it be true?  In a world where everything seems to be divided between Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, it's hard to imagine this little baby will grow up to one day offer salvation to everyone.  My doubts and fears are now replaced with joyful anticipation of what is yet to come.


-- Heather Valentine



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