Yet, despite all this, most people in 1st century Israel were oblivious to the birth of Jesus.
If it weren’t for a few insomniac shepherds watching their flocks when an angel dropped by and some stargazing magi from a far-off land who showed up later, Jesus’ birth might have come and gone totally unnoticed.
The truth is, there is a danger that we could miss Jesus’ birth, too. Sometimes we get so consumed by holiday ‘busy-ness’ – like the mailing of cards, hanging of decorations, preparing for family meals and parties and buying the right gifts – the danger exists we might forget the real reason that Christmas exists.
Some churches – including mine – celebrate Advent each year during the four weeks prior to Christmas. Advent provides a reminder for us to stop, look and listen for the coming of our messiah, our savior, our source of hope.
Whether we formally celebrate Advent or not, we all should take some time to remember that the ‘Word became flesh’ at Christmas as we remind ourselves how God became one of us and put on our humanity (John 1).
In the words of a favorite Christmas carol, we can practice opening our hearts and lives to ‘prepare him room.’
My prayer for everyone is that as we open our hearts to the birth of Jesus we will come to celebrate Christmas with a renewed wonder, as we once again are reminded of God’s greatest gift.
May we take the time to wait and wonder, to stop and be still, so that we join with those at the manger in singing, “O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.”
Michael Potts is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Lebanon. Preacher’s Corner features a new local preacher each month writing a column.