She arrived late Wednesday evening, this lovely grand-niece who is working in the Middle East. Don and I welcomed Savannah with open arms and hearts. As we spent the evening and following day together, she told us of the ways Jesus is moving in the Middle East: visions and dreams of Jesus, young people open to talking about faith in a conversational rather than confrontational way.
Savannah’s prayer? That people she met would see Jesus beside her, behind her, in her. She reflects his love and peace.
So one afternoon she and two friends sat at a random table in a Middle Eastern cafe. As they talked about faith, one of her friends said, “Isn’t that Jesus right behind you?” Startled, Savannah turned around to see a picture of Jesus on the wall behind her. In a public cafe in a M*slim city! What a unique way for Jesus to answer her prayer. And I expect He will be seen in other ways as well. (Story repeated with permission.)
Together, we delighted in God’s goodness and faithfulness.
After Savannah left late Thursday afternoon, Don and I drove to Bethlehem. Bethlehem AD, that is! Churches in Santa Clara, San Jose and Redwood City have built sets that look like Bethlehem might have looked at the time Jesus was born. As we walked through the set, we saw merchants hawk their wares, dancers celebrate, and stern Roman guards keep the crowds at bay. We met my niece, Janae and her four-year old, Titus, and Janae’s mother Sheila. Titus enjoyed petting the lovely calves and sheep held in pens. We watched a brief nativity scene showing the arrival of Mary and Joseph at an inn’s stable in
Bethlehem – “because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Shepherds and wise men entered the stable to worship this Christ-child, this God of all creation who came into the flesh of a human baby in order to grow up, die, and rise again. And he has promised to return for all those who receive his gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus! How I look forward to that day!
For more information on Bethlehem AD and where you can still see it, see http://www.bethlehemad.com/BethlehemA.D./Home.html .
So in the midst of the shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, eating, and special times with family and friends, let’s remember the God who stooped to our level, became man in order to redeem us, to bring us into his family and make us his friends!
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4-5 ESV
I love the words of the Christmas carol, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” written by Charles Wesley in 1739. Listen to these excerpts:
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King:
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild (humbly) he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Consider the truth of who Jesus is, and come, adore him!