21 Dec 2014

Christmas through eyes like yours and mine: Bethlehem

We may not like to have anything more to do with politics than complain over coffee-shop talk and online chats; but all our lives are shaped by politics. So was the life of the King of Kings and Lord of lords. 
When God sent Jesus into the world; he was not exempted from the political realities of his day.

His birthplace, Bethlehem, a small town, was under Roman rule. His parents actually lived in Nazareth (more than 100km away - and note, no cars then so the journey was a long and arduous one); but because of a political decision; they had to make the long trek to Bethlehem.


This is where most of us feel lost. But in the Bible, God stands over politics.

Bethlehem was mentioned a few hundred years earlier by a minor prophet Micah (he is minor not because of age but because the book that bears his name is a short one):

 But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, you are little to be among the clans of Judah; [yet] out of you shall One come forth for Me Who is to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from ancient days (eternity). ~ Micah 5v2 (amplified version) 
So yes, the poor young couple.

God knew they had to make that crazy journey. 

It's not honeymoon. It is so inconvenient! What about setting up home first? How about being near immediate family?Surely God could choose a better time? We ask these questions of our lives, we who buy into the lies that the good life, even the God-favoured one is full of clappy-sappy-goodness.

No, not in God's plan.

God's plan to save you and I involved a young couple going through disgrace (see how the modern facebook version may go: Joe's fb account (imagined) ), leaving the familiar, making a long, tiresome journey to end up in a small town and - not being able to find a room; and so had to stay in some sort of out-house (the Bible doesn't use the word 'stable') because the inns were full.. and there, in a strange place, Mary delivers into the world its Saviour!

I remember reading this when I was nearly six months pregnant with my first child. By then, the worst of the morning sicknesses had passed. But my heart entered a new deeper place as I understood then what it felt like to be with child. I was bemoaning some of my circumstances then, but all I hankered after was personal comfort and affections of loved ones... and all of it for myself. Mary was carrying a child of eternal import and yet, her circumstances were so dire and threadbare.
Did God subject His Son and his vessels to all of these?

Yes he did.

We so don't get God's heart and His ways.

Even if I have said my prayer to ask Jesus into my life; I say it again often - especially this Advent season; because I so easily shut the door at him all over again as I whine about my life and confuse gifts with entitlements, losing sight that it is all Grace!

God puts His plan into motion. Human agencies and political powers all comply - knowingly or not, willingly or not.

You and I, brought into His house (for Bethlehem is the house of bread) to eat and to take what we are given and share - will we willingly and knowingly comply with God's plans?

And if I can find a clue for how Mary did it; it must be in the song she sang months earlier in response to God:
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One hs done great things for me -
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.... ~ Luke 1v46-50

Mary sees God's plan as a stupendous outpouring of mercy and that His choice of her is All Grace and will lead to exaltation. Wow. What will happen to us and how we live through our days if this is our view of things?

What if this is our view of politics too? I cannot tell for sure if Mary never grumbled against the Roman oppressors; but I see her view as higher than that. The Saviour she was privileged to raise certainly never fought the powers head-on; knowing they are but instituted by God and needed to remember their place.

What is your view of your life this Christmas?
Is God over all, and will work through it all?
Is Grace your story and exaltation by God your glory?

other prophecies about Jesus {click}

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