The Magic of Christmas: Bethlehem
by Jennifer Morgan
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
A brilliant star blazes in the night sky over Bethlehem. A new little family rests in a stable. A tiny hand reaches out for comfort. A precious little mouth opens for nourishment. Bright eyes look upwards in search of a mother’s love. A tiny miracle has joined the human race....
Soft lights twinkle on the Christmas tree in the quiet hours just before dawn. Carefully wrapped packages wait patiently under the tree. As the first rays of the sun fracture the night sky, several tiny feet hit the floor and soon the entire house is awake. Christmas is here!
Wrapping paper and ribbons take flight, cries of laughter and delight fill the air, and for the adults, there is coffee...lots of coffee. Soon it is over. But something extraordinary has just happened. As warm hugs were exchanged and greetings of “Merry Christmas!” rang out, powerful bursts of love erupted, unseen, into the room. With each loving glance, smile and tender touch, a heart was filled with joy. In the quiet aftermath of celebration, an atmosphere of love and peace now permeates the home. This is the true gift of Christmas.
There is a profound moment in Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas that I have always loved. “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
Christmas does not need packages and stockings, boxes or bags. Not everyone experiences a Christmas as described above. Traditions differ. Many approach Christmas with hearts heavy with financial burden, illness, grief, loneliness or depression. Yet, Christmas still arrives, each and every year, and it arrives with a priceless Gift...the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. This Gift was topped by a brilliant Star, wrapped in the Bethlehem night, and as this Gift was unwrapped, an unprecedented Love erupted and filled the entire world with its Light.
This Gift comes silently to each of us at Christmas, wherever we are and whomever we are, with an invitation. An invitation to follow that bright Star in the eastern sky. To approach the lowly stable with open hearts and to meet the blessed Child for ourselves. His tiny hand reaches out to us in an offer of Relationship and Peace. His precious mouth opens to speak Truth and Hope to our hungry hearts and weary souls. His bright eyes look up to see His Love and Image reflected in us. Jesus, our Prince of Peace, has come to save the human race.
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” ~ Luke 2:8-11
Merry Christmas, and Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Jennifer Morgan is a published author and long-time Bible study leader. Jenn has served as a lay minister for the Spiritual Care Department of The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Currently, she is an active member of The Woodlands United Methodist Church. You can connect with her at her blog.