If you go to Bethlehem today to visit the place reported to be where Jesus Christ was born, you will first have to leave Jerusalem and go through a heavily guarded check-point into Palestinian territory. Just a few miles later, you enter a beautiful basilica called “The Church of the Nativity.” There you will wait in line to go down a steep, narrow stairway into a basement area, where you will enter a small room. Since 327 A.D., this site has been officially recognized as the place where God Himself set foot onto our planet.
The beauty of The Church of the Nativity is stunning, with marbled columns, masterful painting and opulent architecture. It is a place fit for a king! However, if you want to see something that truly resembles the place where the King of Kings was born, you will need to go outside of Bethlehem far away from the crowds. You will need to go to the caves set in the hillside, where migrant shepherds still tend their flocks … And this is good news.
This is good news because when the Creator of the universe determined the way His Son would come to earth, He chose the humblest setting possible. A young woman gave birth to the baby with only the support of her husband. They were far from family and friends, exhausted after a long journey. The only people who came to visit were shepherds, who had nothing of worth to offer except their devotion.
This is good news because when our Savior came to our world, He entered all of it – our struggles, our loneliness, our suffering. There is no difficulty that we can encounter, which He hasn’t already endured. From the very beginning of the Christmas story, we see how the power of God overcomes heartache, rejection and evil.
For some Christmas 2016 will be a time of joy and celebration filled with good food, special gifts and the loving presence of family and friends. For others, it will be a season of remembering happier times, as you reach out for the promises of hope and peace. The message of Christmas can be most precious to those who are hurting and lonely. Christ’s birth tells us that we are not alone. “Emmanuel” has come. God is with each of us who claim Jesus as Savior and Lord.
“How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.
So God imparts to human hearts the blessing of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him, still the dear Christ enters in.”
As we enter this season of giving, we want to personally thank all those who have already given so sacrificially and willingly for the four presentations of our Christmas Musical and during the preparation and execution of our outdoor Christmas Celebration. There are far too many people to give special recognition. The good news is…no one expected any. All have given with a grateful heart to the Giver of the first Christmas Gift. Christ has been honored in the ministry of each person. Furthermore, many people have been blessed.