Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge Meditation

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Psalm: 2, 85; Micah 4:1-5,5:2-4; John 3:31-36


We now arrive in Bethlehem, where Mary and Joseph found themselves “when the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” Micah's images nourish the imagination of the gospel writers, Matthew and Luke. Magi from the east travel to Bethlehem as the nations stream to Jerusalem. Shepherds feeding their flocks by night surround the town known to be the home of David, the shepherd king. And the prophetic language of labor and travail to speak of the suffering of the nation comes to its resolution in the birth of a living child: “and she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Let us linger here in the city of Bethlehem and in prayer explore its layered meanings. Bethlehem is a literal, geographical place on a map five miles south of Jerusalem. Bethlehem is a literary place, a town associated with the hero, David, and his ancestors. Bethlehem is an imaginary place, its jumble of small buildings alone in a dark landscape, a single twinkling star high above the stable with the tiny family visible within. In my childhood Bethlehem was covered with snow just like the kind that would fall, if we were especially fortunate, on Christmas Eve on my town in New York. And Bethlehem is an interior place, where Christ is born

Loving God, we thank you for Bethlehem, birthplace of the Savior. Come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.  Amen

The Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, ThD 
Dean and President Professor of New Testament Seminary of the Southwest