Journey to Bethlehem

Journey to Bethlehem

A few evenings ago my family and I journeyed through Bethlehem, the town of Jesus’s birth. Ok, we journeyed through the town our church was built on church property to portray Bethlehem as it was long ago

To begin the evening we bundled up, Isaac in football long underwear and sweatpants and too big coat, new green gloves. I wore a pair of long undies I swiped from my mom, likely peeking out above and below my jeans like a grade school nightmare Stylin’! Abby, at least looked adorable, in her fuzzy hooded red parka and fuzzy footed cow pajamas. Joe sported a beard against the cold and boringly normal outerwear. The beard has been grown for his stint playing Joseph later this week.

My family and I were guided through the smokey town, lit only by lamp and moonlight. Clenched in our hands were the coins to pay our taxes. Outside the city gates, we avoided lepers and shied away from the Roman guards, some on horseback. We peeked into a school where children recited Bible prophecies. We heard several heartbroken parents speak of their sick children. My husband was solicited by a prostitute. We were turned away at the inn. No room, too full. Our reserved rooms went to the highest bidder.

We listened to angry people on the street hoping for a deliverer. They wanted a king to save them from the ruling Romans. They wanted lower taxes. They wanted wealth.

About the time our toes were officially frozen, a burly shepherd joined us. Isaac was being carried now; Abby limps in my arms, asleep.

We walked the gravel path under a bright moon and were welcomed around a campfire by a group of shepherds. Suddenly the sky was lit up and angels sang above us. I wanted to be awed at this point but the several angels on the scaffolding looked all too cold and human and their lip syncing was off. We’re doing our best here God, but we just don’t come close to the original birth announcement, I thought.

Then we came to the nativity scene. A feedbox for his bed, a young virgin mother, a stepfather, a baby king. They were silent and still, heads bowed, as if on a peaceful card.

In the original nativity, Mary would still be in pain, having just given birth. Her husband would likely still be shocked by his first midwifery experience. Jesus, crying, or perhaps in an exhausted sleep. The holy family was not immune to the reality of their situation.

The shepherds, smelling of sheep and straw, fall to their knees in wonder. Even though the baby, hours from delivery, is not what they expected they recognize him as Lord.

Rocking my own baby at home, I think about how similar I am to the townspeople I saw this evening. I am part of a crazy life. I am heartbroken, mad about taxes, disappointed in the government. I want a God who will fix my everyday problems. Am I ready to meet God as he is, or do I just want my everyday needs met?

He wants to do so much more than just meet everyday needs. He is concerned with every day but He wants a relationship, above all. His ways are not ours. After all, the Son of God, came to earth through the birth canal, amid blood and pain, born illegitimately into the cow’s feed box.

I pray I will recognize Him for who He is and not make Him over to be the God I want him to be. I pray that you too will recognize Jesus for who He is in your life. He may be radically different than expected!