12/17 Thursday - Advent Seasonby WCUMC Member on 12/17/20
O Little Town of Bethlehem
The lyrics for “O Little Town of Bethlehem” were written in 1868 by Phillips Brooks, an Episcopal priest, inspired by a visit to Jerusalem. The tune was written by his organist Lewis Reddner who tells the story of its composition:
“As Christmas of 1868 approached, Mr. Brooks told me that he had written a simple little carol for the Christmas Sunday-school service, and he asked me to write the tune to it. The simple music was written in great haste and under great pressure. We were to practice it on the following Sunday. Mr. Brooks came to me on Friday, and said, ‘Redner, have you ground out that music yet to "O Little Town of Bethlehem"? I replied, 'No,' but that he should have it by Sunday. On the Saturday night, previous my brain was all confused about the tune. I thought more about my Sunday-school lesson than I did about the music. But I was roused from sleep late in the night hearing an angel-strain whispering in my ear, and seizing a piece of music paper I jotted down the treble of the tune as we now have it, and on Sunday morning before going to church I filled in the harmony. Neither Mr. Brooks nor I ever thought the carol or the music to it would live beyond that Christmas of 1868.”
Today’s Bible verse:
2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
The prophet Micah was active during a tumultuous time in Israel’s history. He reassures the Israelites that God’s covenant with David is still secure and that they will be given a new leader out of the line of David born in Bethlehem. He will be a surprising leader not from the royal city, Jerusalem, but the tiny town of Bethlehem. He will be a shepherd like David and will lead with peace and love.
Consistently, throughout the Bible, God delights in upsetting human expectations. He is full of surprises for us but steadfast in His covenant promises. Micah speaks in a turbulent world much like ours today. It is important that we see through the turbulence to look for God’s presence where we least expect it. Bethlehem was an insignificant, unassuming little town that held the greatest miracle of all time. Micah invites us to look for God’s presence everywhere even in unexpected, supposedly unimportant places.
Pray with us:
Our Heavenly Father, open our eyes that we may see the important promises in your covenant with us. Help us look into the corners of life and insignificant places of existence for your insights. There is no place or person unimportant to you. Tiny Bethlehem was blessed with the birth of your Son. And we, too, are blessed each day with your love and protection. Help us to put aside our worries and rest in the fulfillment of your eternal covenant with us. Amen.
(Reflection & Prayer by Barb Charnock)