THIS SERIES: DREAMING OF A PERFECT CHRISTMAS?
Bethlehem was full to the ginnels with census arrivals; the hated Roman authorities had demanded that young and old, rich & poor make their way, at whatever inconvenience, to their town of birth to be counted. We can imagine the grumbling and cursing in the streets and at the local tavern as footsore Bethlehemites, many having walked for days, assembled for registration. And we can imagine that negative atmosphere being lightened by laughter, here and there, as the human ability to find comradeship, and even humour, in trying circumstances surfaced.
Bethlehem was full, noisy - and unconscious. Not one person, apparently, in the clamour and bustle realised they were just one step away from life transformation. Not one person had ears for anything other than their pressing concerns. And so when the Lord of Heaven and Earth took flesh and came to dwell among them, they remained in their ignorance.
Out on the hillside, beyond the town boundaries, and in a faraway land, there were, however, people keeping watch that night; men who were accustomed to silence, who were alert and focused, ready for anything. And the story of these men has been told for generations, for they were the ones to whom Emmanuel became an experiential reality. They weren’t the rich and powerful, the religious and knowledgeable, or even the apparently good and deserving; these men were reviled foreigners, men outside the covenant promises, and humble shepherds, despised for their poverty and their failures in Law-observance.
It seems that the qualifying attributes for an encounter with Emmanuel was not their nationality, or whether they had been ‘good’, religiously observant or ticked a host of other boxes; their qualification was that they were quiet and they were listening.
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice
Let's make the most of the night hours, and the quiet moments which punctuate our days, to turn towards Him and pray.....
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