The Message of Bethlehem
"But you, O Bethlehem - Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah - yet from you shall come forth One who is to be ruler in all Israel." Micah 5:2
I recently went to see the movie, War Room. I confess, I didn't really go because I wanted to improve my prayer life. I went because it was filmed in Charlotte, and in Atlanta. It was fun sitting in the theater and recognizing the neighborhoods and shopping areas and sky-lines - places I myself work and play. Such identification made the movie resonate that much more.
And this year as I move through Advent, I am so struck by the Micah 5:2 prophecy about the birthplace of Jesus. I recognize that Bethlehem feeling. There were two towns in Israel named Bethlehem - neither one a place of great commerce or influence. They were both sort of podunk, nothing towns. Granted Bethlehem - Ephrathah was notable because the son of a Bethlehem farmer became the greatest king of Israel...but that golden age is long gone by the time of this writing. Bethlehem at the time of a man named Joseph and a young woman named Mary is an insignificant, blink-and-you've-missed-it, kind of town. Ever feel like that? I do. But here is what I love about the Lord. Just when that insignificant, never amount to anything, least among the clans feeling threatens to overtake me - He steps into the darkness.
"Bethlehem" means "house of bread." "Ephrathah" means "abundant fruitfulness" - that is the promise fulfilled in a stable. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior. With those words Bethlehem is put on the map - promise fulfilled.
If you travel east on Hwy. 74 out of Charlotte, you come to the town of Marshville, NC. It is a town with little to recommend it. It doesn't have a McDonald's, but it has Stegall smoked turkey. It is a blue collar kind of place. There is a plastic's plant there, but last time I entered the town, that's not what the sign said. It didn't say, "Marshville - Home of Stegall Turkey and Union Plastics." It said, "Marshville -Home of Randy Travis."
Marshville and Bethlehem should be sister cities. 'Cause it's not a what that put them on the map - it's a who. I want to be a Marshville - known by a Who. I want to be a Bethlehem - a place where Jesus is welcomed, born, allowed to grow. I want to be a "house of bread." - a heart shaped by abundant fruitfulness because Jesus lives there. A woman who's not plagued by that "least among" feeling, not constantly in search of significance, but content to know I am on the map, I am significant because of Jesus.