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Day 11 of 26 :: O, little town

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 HANNAH

I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.

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“The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.”

This is one of my favorite lines from Christmas carols over the years.

For a long time, I thought this line referred to Jesus– he would be the one to meet us in all our hopes and fears– but I realize I got this line wrong. The line comes from the tune, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and so the words are referring to Bethlehem itself.

This is the place where Jesus is born.

This is the little town on the hill where Jesus comes into the world to save his people.

If we’ve discovered one thing throughout these first two weeks of Advent, I hope it is that God is purposeful and all his details work together for reasons we see and reasons we don’t see. Bethlehem is just another example of this.

The word “Beth-el” means “House of God” and the word “Le-hem” means bread. Right from the beginning, just in its name, Bethlehem is depicted as “The House of Bread.”

Could there be a more fitting place for Jesus, who is considered the bread of life, to be born?

Even after the death of Jesus, the stories that take place in Acts (beginning with that very first church in chapter 2) have to do with bread. This was a rag-tag group of people trying to figure out how to do life together under this new banner of Christ. They took care of one another. They showed up for one another. They fellowshipped and, of course, they broke bread.

But as I researched this sweet little town of Bethlehem I found another detail that really struck me. To understand the fullness of it, let’s go back to the Old Testament.

Before Jesus, people were required to make sacrifices to God as a way of repenting and washing clean of their sins. It was a bloody, messy process but it needed to happen over and over again to remain in right-standing with God.

At the Passover, God spoke to the people through instruction: “Take the lamb’s blood and put it on the doorposts and lentil of the house. My angel of judgment is coming through the land of Egypt, but when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”

He was clear: Take the lamb’s blood. He did not instruct them to leave a baby lamb, fully alive, on the doorstep. It had to be the blood of the lamb.

Thousands of years later, John the Baptist testifies that Jesus has come to be the sacrificial lamb for all people. He replaces all the sacrificial lambs with his own living, breathing body. And it’s not his life– his mere walking on the earth– that will save us but his blood. His death. The sacrifice of his life is so that we could have ours and have it abundantly.

But do you want to know the crazy party? For centuries before Jesus arrives on the scene, Passover lambs were born and raised in a very specific place. That place was Bethlehem.

Just outside of Bethlehem, in the shepherds’ fields, the particular breed of the sacrificial lamb that was used to fulfill the purpose of Passover were raised. At the end of their lives, these lambs would be led from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to be sacrificed just as Jesus was led to Jerusalem to meet his destiny on the cross.

I’m so thankful for a God who is in all the details. Who sees this little town of Bethlehem, most known for its Passover lambs, and decides, “This is the place where my son will be born. And one day, he will die on a cross as the ultimate sacrificial lamb and cross out the blots and sins of my people for good.”

God did not close his eyes, pull out a map, and let his finger land on Bethlehem as a great choice for the savior of the world.

He doesn’t pick random locations.

He picked the House of the Bread to be the birthing grounds for the bread of life– broken in body for you and me.

He picked the breeding grounds for Passover lambs to be the birthing grounds for the lamb of God– blood poured out for all of us.

READING

Luke 2:1-5

STEAL THIS PRAYER

Dear God, I’m so thankful you’re a God of purpose who does not pick random locations and random elements to make your presence know. Today, help to me to be grateful for the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross. I want to feel in my bones that your Spirit and presence is the only bread I need.


 

 

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!

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