Hope in the Power of God
Sunday - December 13th
"Hope is Here" Advent Devotionals - Day 13
Scripture to Read Today: Micah 5:2
“But 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.”
Phillips Brooks crested the hill and looked down on the beautiful sight before him. His massive six-foot six-inch frame silhouetted against the rolling hills of a little town called Bethlehem. Brooks, the pastor of Holy Trinity church in Philadelphia, was visiting the Holy Land. His itinerary retraced the footsteps of Jesus.
On Christmas Eve of December 1865, he rode on horseback from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to participate in the midnight Christmas service. The town of Bethlehem sat on an eastern ridge, surrounded by terraced gardens. The sight so moved Brooks that he jotted down a few thoughts on a scrap of paper and tucked it into his pocket.
Two years later, with Christmas approaching, Brooks worked on a song to present in the Sunday School service of his church in Philadelphia. Brooks asked his friend and volunteer organist Louis Redner if Redner could provide a tune for the little poem he had written. Redner said of that moment, "The simple music was written in great haste and under great pressure almost on the Eve of Christmas. It was after midnight that a little angel whispered the strain in my ear, and I roused myself and jotted it down as you have it."
The words that were sung for the very first time that Christmas in Philadelphia would continue to be sung for decades to come. The hymn would be embedded in the traditions of the holiday. Brooks, thinking back on his visit to Bethlehem, wrote the words,
O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see the lie;
above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by.
The "little" town of Bethlehem Brooks wrote about in the nineteenth century was written about by another servant of God seven hundred years before the night Jesus was born. "You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small..., out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel..." (Micah 5:2). Why was Bethlehem God's go-to locale for his Son to be born? There was nothing special about Bethlehem. It didn't have the size of Jerusalem. It lacked the grandeur of one of Herod's palace fortresses. People only went there to be counted for the Roman census for the purpose of paying taxes.
God chose Bethlehem because, even in David's day, it would be the last place a king would be born. God likes to use the weak, the foolish, the forgotten, the underestimated, and the unassuming.
God never competes with us to make a point. He doesn't want to beg for our attention. God doesn't need our abilities, charisma, skills, or connections to do something great in our lives. He needs a willing heart - a heart that will show up and engage Him.
For those who are willing and watching, God shows up in the most incredible and powerful ways.