O Little Town of Bethlehem (Glory of Christmas) by Matt Redman
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in Thee tonight
And the glory of Christmas is the glory of Christ
And the glory of Christmas is the story of His love
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O Christ be welcomed in
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“O Little Town of Bethlehem” paints the picture of a sleepy, unassuming town that serves as the setting for the unprecedented act of God entering the world as a human being. There were no doubt many people living in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth who had no realization that a young woman was having a baby that night, or if they had known, would have given much more than a second thought to the topic.
Although we look back on Christ’s birth as an indescribably important moment in all of known history, for the actual people living in Bethlehem at the time, most were probably completely unaware of what had taken place. Although this might seem odd to us, who have celebrated Christmas every year of our lives, the first Christmas was most likely a day just like any other for the vast majority of the people living in proximity to Christ’s birth.
And yet Bethlehem, “above thy deep and dreamless sleep” is very much the kind of setting where the Gospel takes place. Not with resounding ovation, but in quiet, simple, even normal actions.
Jesus spent much of his ministry searching for the perfect metaphor for his Kingdom. He often described it as being like seeds planted in the ground (Mark 4:30-34), a buried treasure, or a single, perfect pearl (Matthew 13:44-46).
These are common things, small things, hidden things, but are very valuable and important.
In the same way, that many people didn’t notice the birth of Jesus, the vast majority of our thoughts, prayer and actions made in the advancement of God’s Kingdom will be unnoticed. Few will see the gentle compassion we show to hurting friend, or the silent prayers offered about a distressed stranger we observe, or the encouragement we share with another struggling to make their own impact for good in this world.
That’s why Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians 1:28, “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.”
God could have heralded the entrance of his Son into this world with a cadenza of horns and angelic figures witnessed by the entire globe. Instead, only a few shepherds were audience to the angel’s invitation.
The simplicity and humility of Christ’s birth is in and of itself an example of how God works in our world frequently – through the simple, mundane and normal – and yet what makes those things extraordinary is the presence of God with us.
God with us makes everything infinitely important and divinely blessed.
I pray that you might take a look at the small, even seemingly boring, places where God is working and moving. Do you recognize his movement around you? Are you open to the passing of God’s hand among you, even while many others may not notice?
Prayer Practice For Today
Simply take a moment and examine the places where God might be operating in small places. Where is it that God is working in your life? Stop and reflect on the often missed movements of God. Ask God to bring forth how he has been quietly working in your life. Ask God for better eyes to see his unbelievable movement in your life and the world.
Thank you for always working in this world, even though we often do not realize it. You are so good to us, so good to me. Help me to recognize you more, hear you clearer and see you better. My life would radically change, if I could only know you more. Help me gracious God for I am yours! Amen.
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