Psalm of Praise: Psalms 96:7-8
Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Bible Reading: Micah 5:2-5
You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labour bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be our peace.
I wonder how you imagine the ‘little town of Bethlehem.’ Maybe you have Christmas cards showing a few flat-roofed and turreted houses on a hillside and a rustic pitched-roof stable in the foreground.
What about the population? We know it was busy at the birth of Jesus with travellers returning to their hometown, but what about the normal population?
Historians believe that, at the time Jesus was born, Bethlehem had a population of around three hundred. Think Scaldwell. Historically Scaldwell was a bustling village. As well as the church it had a school, three pubs, a village store and post office, dairy farms, pig farms, a firm of builders, a butcher with an abattoir, a baker and no doubt a candlestick maker.
It was into an obscure village community like this that a young pregnant woman travelled almost a hundred miles with her husband and gave birth to a Son who would become Saviour of the world.
God relates to the obscure. It was a thousand years previously that David, the obscure eighth son of a citizen of Bethlehem, who went from being a shepherd boy to becoming the most famous king in Israel’s history. It is in this same village that the future Good Shepherd was born, an obscure child who would become King of kings. And, according to Isaiah, it is with our Shepherd- King that we can live securely and be at peace.
God can also do great things in the obscure lives of people in obscure towns villages today. Greatness in God’s eyes is not measured in wealth or fame, it is measured in faithfulness and fruitfulness, it is measured in love for God and in love for our neighbours.
Lord Jesus, Shepherd king, I offer myself to you in my obscurity
that you might do great things through me for your kingdom.
O Little town of Bethlehem