Saturday, January 6, 2007

O, Little Town of Bethlehem!

For a number of years, Christmas meant Santa Clause and Christmas tree to me. We never had plastic Christmas trees at home. Around ten days before The Day, my dad and I would go on our mission to get a nice tree. (My younger siblings tagged along, as usual, but I never considered them important enough to be counted a part of the ‘Team’!). Once we agreed on the right one, from among the many trees which grew by the river bank, a li’l more than a kilometer away from our house, we would bring it home. The three of us (my siblings and I) would then decorate it with all the glittery stuff we could get in the market that year, stars-big and small and all the balloons we could inflate- till the tree looked kinda hideous!!! But then, we’d love it. Particularly, me, because this would be one of those times when I used to feel more powerful than a CEO! I’d boss around as much as I could, and my meek sister and baby brother would listen to me, while they laboured with me, keeping the tree’s best interest in mind! Then, my dad would step in for lighting the tree, and would drop hints as to how our ‘work of art’ could have looked better. Finally, half the balloons would be off the tree and it looked quite presentable!

As I grew older, Christmas meant the ‘season of singing’ to me. We would be busy going for carol practices which began at least a month ahead of Christmas. The cakes and the family get- togethers were the inevitables…The midnight services were never interesting, especially after the choir singing was over. I’d slant onto my mom, and slowly and steadily, drift into a peaceful nap. Till now, I must have heard a handful of Christmas messages, and they were all the same- that Christmas is about God’s love and not Santa Clause or Christmas tree; that it is more important to have Christ born in our hearts, etc and my heart had grown callous to them. They were predictable and boring, and never seemed to speak to me.

But, this Christmas was different...

There was nothing Christmassy about the church service. There were no carols sung except for one. There was no set schedule for that evening's programme. Still, I sat with a couple of my friends, expectant. After the singing was over, the pastor said he had a small message to share. My mind’s eye foresaw a normal Evangelistic speech and felt as if I had nothing to take from there, that night. But, what he said gripped my heart so much that it left me in rapt attention for the rest of the service!

He was talking about the little town of Bethlehem. The little, obscure town of Bethlehem. The lowly town of Bethlehem that was handpicked by God to bring forth His Son! Yes, the chosen town of Bethlehem!

There are times when I wondered why my dad wasn’t a business tycoon, or why I didn’t have blue blood running in my veins…why I couldn’t have been a world famous movie star or a tennis player…not that I regretted that I’m not any of these, but such “What if/ Why not” scenarios brought home the ecstacy of being in a fantasy world!

For the first time, I was excited at the thought of being little, and obscure and lowly…I loved to be in the league of little Bethlehem- few in number, young in age and least in identity. For I knew that though I am little, out of me will come forth the accomplishment of a mighty purpose of God. For I knew that, out of the little Bethlehem, came forth a ruler, and it is the same God who chose Bethlehem, who chose me!!!

Having found a new hope and meaning in Christmas, I walked out of that place singing to myself “O, little town of Bethlehem”, content that He would not let my flesh glory in His presence!!