”But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[b] of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” 3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.” Micah 5.2-4
I have been to Bethlehem five times in my life. I’ve walked into the proposed birthplace of Jesus, where the Church of the Nativity was built. I’ve ducked my head to walk through the five foot tall modified entrance which requires everyone, even the most important, to bow before the presence of the Christ. I’ve waited in line to see the rocks in the cave behind the altar to see the exact place where the baby was born.
Yet, I met the Christ child not so much on my trips to the Holy Land, walking where he walked, seeing his birthplace, his hometown, his burial tomb – but here where I live, in Texas primarily. I didn’t first meet Jesus personally by looking at Bethlehem but on a lonely mountainside in Colorado in 1986 when I surrendered my life to his will. It was at that moment I made a decision to follow the Lord. I surrendered my heart, confessed my sins, and committed my all to his cause. And in return, he gifted me with his Presence. Like the Levites whose inheritance is the Lord, so the Holy Spirit of God encountered me mind, body and soul. His Spirit came in to my spirit, he sanctified me, cleansed me, made me whole.
I’m not knocking those who meet Christ at his birthplace, but it’s not the physical location that matters, rather the condition of the heart. Christ will meet any of us where we are, and how we are, if indeed we will surrender all we are to his cause. I don’t know how to put it any plainer than that. Faith is a mystery but surrender is intentional.
Today is Christmas Eve, making me reflect upon that wonderful starry night when God sent his Son to a virgin and Jewish carpenter. To be birthed in a stable, laid in a manger, heralded by angels, acknowledged by shepherds and wisemen. God’s greatest gift to humanity was the birth of his Son, only equal to the death and resurrection of that same son.
This Christmas Eve, allow the Lord to meet you. You may not be able to visit the Holy Land and that’s ok. He will find you right where you are, if you are willing, ready and able. If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Then you will be saved.
Will you call upon the Christ this Christmas? Will you offer him all you are? Will you allow the birth at Bethlehem to reflect the new birth in your soul? What are you waiting for? Why not now? Why not today?
”O Lord God your are good. Thank you for loving me. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your grace and help me know your salvation. Purify me with your love. Enter my body and save me by your blood. On this Christmas Eve, when the world rejoices in your birth, count me among them. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen