Day 1 🌲 O Little Town of Bethlehem

O Little Town of Bethlehem with a star

Merry Christmas!!

Fun Fact! The 12 Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day (if you’re following a liturgical calendar). As your 12 Days of Christmas begin this year, let’s take pause to explore the lyrics of some of our favorite Christmas carols. There is a richness I’m only now beginning to fully appreciate (and, as my kids tell me, “I’m old.”).

Too many times we close off our celebrations once Christmas Day is past. Why are we in such a rush to get back to “normal.” I would suggest our new normal should be staying close to Jesus, drawing closer every day. That’s certainly how I roll. It’s my prayer this series on the Christmas carols will be a beautiful transition for all of us from the Christmas season to one of Christ-filled living.

I learned just the other day that our first carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is my husband, David’s favorite Christmas song. Could it be because his Ph.D. dissertation was on the book of Micah? Jesus’ birthplace was foretold in Micah 5:2.

Let’s look at the lyrics from this beautiful hymn. Before you read, close your eyes, and imagine Jesus’ birthplace of Bethlehem the night he was born. Imagine the sights, sounds, and even smells.

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in the dark street shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

Jesus is our light! His presence illuminates the way for us and all those who’ve had hopes and fears. As I imagine the scene, it’s not so very “silent” considering the town would have been filled with people there for the census.

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God, the King
And peace to men on earth

How can we be a morning star? How have we proclaimed the birth of Jesus in our Christmas preparations? It’s not too late! The 12 Days of Christmas are just beginning. Our Christmas focus doesn’t need to get put away like the ornaments this year! We can keep singing the praises to God as well for what he has done.

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

How does Christ enter your heart? His name Immanuel, which means God with us, suggests his presence in our lives. John 1:12 says, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” As I mentioned in my last Advent devotional focusing on this John text, accepting Jesus as our Savior and King ushers us into the family of God.

Imagine Jesus knocking on the door of your heart. He wants so desperately to come in, but he won’t enter until we welcome him. Revelation 3:20 depicts this beautifully. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Jesus wants to be our friend.

We live in a world of sin just like this song says. The same world has nearly always been full of sin. But there is hope. I think this last verse speaks of the return of Jesus we are waiting for. What do you think? Are we the meek souls ready to receive Jesus today?

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray. Father, may the wonder of the miracle of Christmas continue to grow in my heart this Christmas season. As I remember your humble birth in the little town of Bethlehem, may I marvel at the love you have for me and how you have entered my life anew today. May your spirit in me reflect your eternal light. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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