“You, O Bethlehem… who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel.” (Micah 5:2)
Many of you already know that my wife and I spent most of this past Friday evening and all day Saturday at Kennestone hospital waiting on the birth of our first grandchild. Knowing “the date” was near, we knew there was certainly the possibility that the baby would be born near Christmas, but with the “official” due date not until January 8, most of us didn’t think it a very realistic possibility. And yet, at 5:33pm on Saturday, December 27, Hannah Lynne was born.
For those of you who are already grandparents, forgive the self-indulgence, but I’m sure you can agree that it certainly is an amazing feeling to experience your own child becoming a mommy or daddy for themselves! Jennifer and Zach will make great parents, but as I have been at the hospital since then watching little Hannah, it strikes me how prophetic were the words of the article I shared in our church’s Advent Devotional (the one my daughter Jennifer edited).
Pardon me sharing its words again, but here is what I wrote back in November when I was asked to submit an article…
"Good things come in small packages." We've all heard that many times. But it was never so true as in the place where Jesus was born. In the time of Jesus' birth, the town of Bethlehem was a relatively insignificant place -- one of a hundred or more small, old, poor, sleepy villages that dotted the landscape of Palestine in that day... not exactly a place for the birth of the "King of kings and Lord of lords!"
And yet, as is shown time and time again throughout scripture, God often choses small and seemingly insignificant things to teach us something of the values and priorities of His kingdom -- ones which often seem opposite and counterintuitive to those of our world. They teach us that with God, out of weakness can come strength, out of insignificance can come importance, out of nothingness can come some "somethingness," and that out of despair and poverty can come the greatest hope and true riches the world has ever known. The "little town of Bethlehem," you see, is a metaphor for each of us, reminding us that no matter how small, insignificant, unloved or unappreciated we may feel, we are valuable and special to God, and that our lives matter to him!
So, as you open (or have opened) gifts this Christmas Day, remember that the greatest gifts we can receive (or give) are not necessarily the largest or most expensive, but the ones which impart the value and blessings of God with them -- it’s the small, unexpected blessings of life that often are the ones that are the most meaningful. So today, give someone around you a “Small Christmas” blessing!
Prayer: O God, thank you that you came that first Christmas not in power but in smallness. Teach us this Christmas to appreciate and value the seemingly "small" things and experiences of life and of our world, so that we might truly inherit your kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen. ....
Little did I know that -- for me and my family -- those words about being on the look out for “small Christmas blessings” would refer to Hannah’s birth. Yet, we believe that that is, indeed what God had in mind for us this Christmas.
So, even though Christmas day is past, what “small Christmas blessing” are you experiencing in your life this holiday? It doesn't have to be as obvious as a new baby, but if you have one to share, please reply back to this article and share it as a way of saying thank you to God. And always remember that God loves you and I do, too!