Before the song started, the world broken hearted
Was dreamlessly passing the long empty days;
Then a dark, lonely hillside was spangled with light
And a song burst into the night.
He started the whole world singing a song,
The words and the music were there all along;
What the song had to say was that love found a way
To start the world singing a song.
(Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither and Chris Waters)
Come see the place where the song started 2000 years ago! Come to Bethlehem, shrink wrapped and transported to the Crossroads Centre in Oyen 6 – 9 pm on Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7.
You will be greeted at the door by census takers and a tax collector who is content with your bringing an item for the Food Bank. Roman soldiers are everywhere, their very presence mocking Jewish nationalism.
Merchants with their wares – some which they will invite you to create – are down that street. And surely you will find a bakery in Bethlehem, the “house of bread.” Yes, it’s congested in this town, but why are you here? Because Augustus Caesar compels everyone to return to the family’s birthplace to register at the census office? Well, then…
And that’s why a young woman, perhaps still in her teens, accompanies her husband on the 80-mile trek from Nazareth to the little town of Bethlehem about the time she is to give birth to a child. To Jesus (“Jehovah is salvation”), for so the angel of the Lord instructed them to name Him. You think you’re a little annoyed with the crush of all the people in town? It’s so bad there is only one place Mary and Joseph can find a little privacy: a stable! There, in solitude amidst chaos, God chose to wrap Himself in the form of human flesh to begin the process of saving people from sin – from “missing the mark” He had lovingly and wisely set for their lives.
And that’s when the song began! An angel – perhaps the same one who visited Joseph and Mary – ruptured the black sky and announced to startled shepherds: “‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’” (Luke 2:10-14)
That’s what set Bethlehem apart from every other Mediterranean community inflated with hundreds of people complying with Caesar’s demands. That’s why we invite you to Bethlehem – because God’s salvation, peace and joy still find a sanctuary among humble folk, even in the midst of chaos.