One of my favorite Christmas songs is "Not that Far from Bethlehem" by Point of Grace. (you can listen to the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLMzK-38uqc)
Every time I listen to that song, I get a little teary eyed. In part, it says this:
And though two thousand years have past,
We're not that far from Bethlehem,
where all our hope and joy began.
For when our hearts still cherish Him,
we're not that far from Bethlehem.
I am very thankful for my Christmas experience on this side of the world. Today, there will be no gifts exchanged. No christmas trees, no trimmings, no Christmas movies - nothing that has made my Christmas so normal for all of my American life.
But, there will be dozens of friends and children all pitching in to make a wonderful meal. There will be laughter and love. We will pray together and break bread together and take a moment out of our crazy busy lives to remember that He came.
He came - that scrawny newborn in to abject filth. The Holy Son of God came to a peasant girl, a guy who liked to make things with wood, and some stinky shepherds. He came to the very least because that was the only way we would ever know that He came for us.
Not one of you, who has ever had a child, would choose to bring your child into......that. That stinky place. Those filthy animals. So very far away from home, comfort, family and friends. But God the Father chose to send His son into that. More than that, He chose to send his son into this horribly broken, sinful, sad world. He was God. He'd scraped it all and began again before. Of course, He'd promised He would never do that again, but He could've. He was God. That would have been alright - even understandable. Yet, this time He came and that changed everything.
Today, I will miss my family and friends. I will miss the laughter and all the crazy moments. I will miss how hard my mama tries to make everything perfect - and laughing when at least one thing usually isn't perfect. Without fail, she usually forgets a gift or gives someone the wrong gift (I have had both those things happen - a few years ago I received my brother's boxers :0) But, that is where wonderful memories are made, and I will miss that.
But, I am so thankful for the beautiful simplicity of this Christmas. As many things go on as normal and the market still buzzes with activity, I will be acutely aware that so many still need to know He came. So many lives still need to be changed by His all-consuming grace.
Sometimes, it seems we are so far removed from that tiny, helpless baby in that stinky stable. Christmas has become so glamorized and Santa-ized. It's become an industry. Our world is so sad and so violent, and with every nativity that is taken down it seems that we are so far removed from a world that wants to remember the Baby.
No one is expecting him to come. No one really cares. No one's focus is the baby - instead it is themselves, their desires, their own hopes and dreams.
Yes, I would say our world is not all that different from the one He chose to come into.
And still He chooses. Indeed, we are not that far from Bethlehem.