“But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons,” Galatians 4:4-5.
We expect Christmas to be a joyous time. But for many, Christmas simply intensifies feelings of hopelessness and loneliness.
Many years ago, I struggled with depression as Christmas drew near. Wanting to keep my commitment as a choir member, I forced myself to participate in the Christmas concert. I broke down in tears before we entered the sanctuary. Friends, knowing my situation, hugged me. They gave me strength to compose myself and prepare to sing. As the concert proceeded, I listened with my heart to the words we sang:
“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by; yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Dark streets. That sounds gloomy. That sounds like me.
As we went on to the second and third verses, I began to see what God was doing behind the scenes. “Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
Suddenly, I sensed that God was speaking to me through the words of the song.
I am Bethlehem!
I thought of the verse in Galatians 4:4, “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, “Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:4-6, RSV).
Between songs, I quickly jotted down my thoughts on my bulletin. By the time the concert was over, I felt more hopeful and less lonely than I had in a long time. God’s truth and presence were lighting up my darkness. This poem resulted from that experience.
I Am Bethlehem
I am Bethlehem… little, insignificant, inadequate in my eyes.
How long have I lain here still, hoping for a glimmer of Your glory,
going through the motions day after day?
LORD, You gave a promise through prophets long ago.
Will Your promise be fulfilled in me?
Will my purpose be fulfilled?
Above me, the stars are silent. My heart aches with their silence.
I anguish to hear Your voice.
But suddenly! Has the time fully come?
Here You are, shining in the dark streets of my heart, driving out the gloom.
In Your radiance, You speak, giving Your Word flesh!
My hopes are fulfilled, my fears dispelled.
O Glorious LORD! There is room in me for You!
Fill me to overflowing with Your glory!
Shine and speak through me.
Make Your music resound through me that
others may know the song You’ve given,
the peace You have brought.
Is this my purpose?…
that You have come to be born in me?
—Judith Vander Wege
Yes, and He has come to be born in each one of us to the glory of God. Let us each be a fitting vessel for Him.