Micah 5:2 – But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. (NRSV)
Every town needs its hero, and I should also say, heroine. Little places like to have someone they can point to and highlight achievements that seem larger than life. There is a certain sense of pride that goes with it.
I am from Sevier County, whose claim to fame rests with Dolly Parton. Dolly grew up in Caton's Chapel, a little community that was a way from either Pigeon Forge or Sevierville. She did not have much money growing up, and that was part of what made her who she has become. She was always humble, not forgetting her roots. But she was also shooting for the stars and not afraid to put herself out front. She started with local shows and then grew into doing Hollywood movies. She wrote, produced, and sang countless country classics. She is widely recognized for her humanitarian efforts. She is a big star from a small town. It would have been easy to have overlooked her, but her light was too bright to keep hidden.
Likewise, Bethlehem was and is a small place. Its one big claim to fame was having been the hometown of David. David, the brightest and best king of Israel, came from this little place that would have been so easy to overlook. We hear later that when the Magi came from the east seeking a newborn ruler of the Jews, others had to hunt to find today's verse as a reminder of where the ruler was to be born. The very idea that a king should come from such a small setting was practically unthinkable.
When we discover that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it is easy to see how this little place was the site of some big beginnings. Small in size, it had a much larger part to play.
Perhaps this is a good text to remind us how we so often overlook small things. We overlook small places as if they are not important. We overlook small gifts that may have come from a big heart. We overlook people from small towns as if they are less than those who come from larger cities. It is, no doubt, one of the reasons that so many overlooked Jesus in His time on earth.
In this Advent season, let us be watching for the little things in which God may appear.
Prayer: God of all times and places, we come before You now, mindful that Your presence is everywhere. You can be found in both large and small, in both grand and humble estates. Give us a spirit of humility so that we may see the blessing and value of the small things that make up our lives. Help us to honour all, no matter their origins, remembering that Christ Himself was from little Bethlehem. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Come Thou Almighty King" (Lyrics)