Every holiday season I get a Christmas Carol stuck in my head. Usually, it’s “O Holy Night”, but this year “O Little Town of Bethlehem” has been on repeat. It may have something to do with the feeling the song invokes in me.
The first verse talks about the town itself:
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.
Bethlehem had no reason to suppose that night that something miraculous would happen. The world had been taxed and so it was full of those who, in tradition, went to their family’s birthplace to pay. The inns were full and things seemed to be jovial. The greatest joy, however, would be found in a lowly stable, a baby laid in a manger who would change the world.
The second verse celebrates the birth of Jesus:
For Christ is born of Mary,
And, gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth.
The Greatest Gift given to man was born. Even though it would be some 33 years after that the gift was given, this night marked the start of His ministry and teachings. Most mortals slept right through the event, however, the stars were set up to proclaim the birth.
The third verse discusses the gift and how to obtain it:
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.
There was no fanfare, no proclamation made via the governments of the world that the gift was given. The gift is given and resides in our hearts. We may not always recognize the gift within us. We may not always keep in mind that Jesus gave His life so that we might live. That the way may be opened so that we can be forgiven and achieve eternal glory as He has. The Gift is there and if we seek it, we can be blessed by it.
It all started in a tiny town, lying still on a Christmas eve over 2000 years ago. Christ was born of Mary and shepherds came to witness. The beginning of the Greatest Life ever lived which culminated in the Greatest Gift ever given. May we be those “meek souls [who] receive him still” and let Christ enter into our lives.