Since visiting Israel, Palestine and Jordan, and in particular the city of Bethlehem in 2010, I have a personal and deep connection to the special places of significance to Jesus’ life story. A walk through Shepherds Field and visit to the Church of the Nativity, which is regarded as the site of the birth place of Jesus, are things that are special memories. Many before me and many since have made this pilgrimage to Bethlehem. Why? Because the greatest story of the Christian Church and indeed, humanity, had its humble beginnings here.
The events leading up to the birth of Jesus were not chance, but were put in place by God, so that the prophesies of old would be fulfilled. Everything that happened, from the time the census was ordered by Caesar Augustus, to everyone returning to their own town to be registered, and then the birth of Jesus while Joseph & Mary were in Bethlehem, was planned by God.
At this very first Christmas, God became truly human in the person of his Son, Jesus. Jesus came into the world, miraculously conceived, was born and grew up and experienced life as all humans do. In doing this, God gave the greatest gift imaginable to the world. For God knew that this son would ultimately give the gift of his life and die to enable us to have a relationship with Him as his chosen sons and daughters.
So, this Christmas may we experience love, joy, peace and hope as we ponder and reflect on the birth of Jesus at the first Christmas, for this gives true meaning to our celebrations.
The words of Aub Podlich’s ‘A Christmas Blessings’ (1983) provide a wonderful reflection on our relationship with God and all that we live for in this life and life eternal.
May the feet of God walk with you, and his hand hold you tight.
May the eye of God rest on you, and his ear hear your cry.
May the smile of God be for you, and his breath give you life.
May the Child of God grow in you, and his love bring you home.
May we all experience the Christ in our Christmas celebrations this year.