The Beatitudes of Bethlehem A new kind of Kingdom was born in Bethlehem that first Christmas. This was to be an upside-down Kingdom that would flip the script on who is really blessed and who is not in God’s unfolding plan. The babe in a manger would grow […]
The blessings of Bethlehem don’t fly up to the mighty on the mountaintops, but flow downward into the valleys flooded with the tears of the mourners—from Bethlehem to Sandy Hook.
Ebenezer Scrooge had a hard time grasping and embracing the spirit and message of Christmas. The rich and self-sufficient always do. Their own personal kingdoms loom so large that they have a hard time making room for God’s Kingdom—and all the poor and lowly riff-raff to whom it belongs.
Thirty years have passed since I sat on the garage roof staring up at the night sky. The worries and cares of a middle schooler have been upgraded to the burdens of a father, husband and pastor living in this current moment of darkness and fear. Perhaps, this Advent, you also feel like we’re sitting collectively on a cold and icy roof, staring up at the Heavens and badly need to hear these words this Advent: “The people sitting in a pandemic have seen a great light, and to those sitting in the land and shadow of covid, a light has dawned on them” (Matt 4:16).
The Bethlehem Revolution is for all who find themselves at the end of their rope; for those who have hit the wall; for all who have climbed to the top of the ladder only to be pushed off, and can’t find the strength to start climbing again.
Those angels outside Bethlehem could have been Jewish Jedis when they came with their greeting that was essentially, “May the Force be with you” — that is, may the Peace or Shalom of God be with all upon whom God’s favor rests (cf. Luke 2:14)!
The very name Epiphany carries a wonderful abundance of connotations: revelation and realization and disclosure and manifestation, all with an element of surprise – a illumination of insight in which everything is transformed.
I’m so glad the shepherd’s near Bethlehem didn’t have smartphones or Netflix that first Christmas. Can you imagine the scene?
This week’s Words of Wisdom (WOW) come from Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): “The time of the Incarnation was most suitable. Had God come to man to redeem us immediately after the first sin was committed, human pride would not have been humbled in consequence of that sin; man would not have realized, through an impressive stretch of time, the greatness of the treasure he had lost.
“Man’s maker was made man that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast; that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey; that Truth might be accused of false witnesses, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.”
Someone has said that the door of the stable where Jesus was born was very low to the ground, so people had to bow down humbly on their hands and knees in order to approach the manger to worship the savior. And did you ever notice that we find the same kind of folks surrounding the manger as we find at the foot of the cross?