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Friday, December 14, 2007

Checking into the Bethlehem Hilton

With Christmas less than two weeks away, we continuously absorb from American life various and intense takes on the Christmas story. Somewhere between the crowded stores, the noisy streets, overspent credit cards and sometimes annoying visitors that are difficult to love, we long to experience the true Christmas story. Deep down inside, if we are honest, we all know that Christmas is not about Santa Claus, ‘Jingle Bells,’ fruit cake and eggnog.

The true Christmas story is about God’s love for the poor as well as for those who identify with the needy as poor sinners themselves desperately wanting a Savior. On the day of His birth, Jesus avoids the possibility of checking into the Bethlehem Hilton (photo, luxury hotel overlooking the "Old Wall" in Jerusalem) and just in the nick of time makes his bed in the hay of a cold barn. From the very outset the Savior wanted to give a very clear picture about who He is and what He has come to do. In Luke chapter 4 it is said by Jesus …“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

In His manger's poverty, Jesus' birth continues to grow His mission for the poor when he becomes officially homeless himself. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus became a true homeless family when Herod, a government official, became a threat to them (Matt. 2:13–15). Let us keep in mind that this image captures the essence of a Christmas story because you cannot get any poorer than that.

Where will we find Jesus - the Christ we so want to know? Will we find Him in the shopping mall - or might he unexpectedly appear in alley somewhere lying with the homeless? How joyful would it be to go see Him and greet Him there?

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