Little Town of Bethlehem

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Ray and I recently enjoyed an evening in Granville, a tiny historic community in our county which I have written about many times before.

We enjoyed a bit of shopping and a delicious meal and Christmas concert at Sutton General Store.

After the concert, we drove around town to enjoy the pretty Christmas decorations. If only it were snowing, you could almost imagine George Bailey walking through town in It’s a Wonderful Life.

The string of bells across the street especially took us back to (as the song says) “Christmases long, long ago.”

Today’s easy devotional idea is about the central event in the entire history of the world—the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ! The citizens of Granville proclaimed His birth in several Christmas decorations.

God works in history. He used Roman emperor Caesar Augustus to get Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the city of David, so that Jesus could be born where God had prophesied He would be. Mary and Joseph fulfilled a civic responsibility by going there to register for the census. I have long been impressed with the way the citizens of Granville and a host of volunteers from miles away work together for the good of their little town.

Read: Luke 2:1-5

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.  While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Discuss: How did God use the Roman rulers in this story?

Pray as you reflect on this truth: All rulers and authorities were created by Christ and for Christ (Colossians 1:13-20).

Add to the basket: a rolled piece of paper tied with a ribbon to represent Caesar’s decree.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness,
and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
For by Him all things were created,
both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
He is also head of the body, the church;
and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
For it was the Father’s good pleasure
for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself,
having made peace through the blood of His cross;
through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Colossians 1:13-20

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Optional Song: If you would like to add a song to today’s devotion, you might enjoy singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” You can learn the story behind this carol in my December 7, 2020, post on Daily Encouragement.

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.

For Christ is born of Mary,
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in;
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.

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