Dear people of Bethlehem,
In this Advent season, I am always so grateful to name us all, “the people of Bethlehem”. Indeed we are in name, but also in disposition. We are indeed a people who seek after the light. People who live, the day to day of our lives, as those in the town of Bethlehem must have done those many years ago, but at the same time we dare to look up, that we might see the grace and promise of God in the heavens. The shepherds on the hill were not expecting angels and yet, when it happened, they chose to run toward the story of grace. They dared to believe it was possible for the world to change for the better in the company of God, and they wanted to be a part of it.
I have always imagined that we would do the same. That confronted with the unfolding story of God’s new grace, we would run towards it; confident enough, daring enough, joyous enough to believe that we could be a part of it. And now is such a time. Things are shifting under our feet, and God is clearly in the midst of a new and unfolding grace. How blessed are we, to be a part of it.
The people of Bethlehem were near to the stable, had clear vision of the star, and were close enough to feel the grace of the moment. So too are we, in these days. As Christmas carols play around us and lights appear in our neighborhoods, like Mary and Joseph, we are close enough to the story, to hear the newborn’s cry. “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” So too do we. This is pondering and ponderous time. Like Mary, the truth of the day is neither light nor easy and yet, within the dark night, the light always shines, the star always appears. Hope burns more brightly when it is needed most, and now is such a time.
Dear people of Bethlehem take heart, for we are near to the hope of the star and the new pivot of God’s grace. We are near enough to be a part of it all. We are confident enough, daring enough, joyous enough to believe that we can make a difference — we who bear the name of Bethlehem.
In this holy season, may peace be yours, the peace we need, the peace of which the angels sang. May God’s peace flood your hearts and may new hope embed your days in this advent season. As we look to the heavens, waiting for the star, let us together glimpse God’s new and unfolding grace. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given.” How blessed are we to be a part of it.