Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

December 9, 2011

My Birthday in Bethlehem

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

The last three years I have had the joy of visiting Bethlehem about this time of year.  But on my visit this year, it was my birthday.  Having come to know most of the shop keepers and even many of the people walking the streets, I was overwhelmed when the local innkeeper, whom I have known for several years, gathered many of the people and acknowledged my presence.  Then he announced it was my birthday.  Then the air was filled with the familiar song, “Happy Birthday.”  (In English, of course.)

Before I tell you the rest of the story, let me remind you of Bethlehem in earlier times.

Bethlehem is about five miles southwest of Jerusalem.  The city might have gone unnoticed in history except for the fact that it is the birthplace of Christ.  In the time of Christ, this small village would find the local market area busy with people.  Under close scrutiny by the Romans, who occupied the land, the residents would walk the streets stopping at various shops.  They went about their daily living lacking joy and peace.  They were intimidated by the soldiers and wished to be in control of their own land and lives.

And as if I was back in time, I experienced it as in those days of long ago!

I was stopped at the gate of the city and required to pay a tax before entering.  I cannot say that the soldiers were kind!  But I paid the tax and I entered the city. I joined many people who were busy with their mission of purchasing household needs.  There were some who were seeing old friends and taking time to visit.  I cannot say that the street was filled with joy — more anxiety that anything else, I believe.  They feared the Roman soldiers.  Life seemed difficult for them.

I began to stop at the various shops.  Whether you were seeking to buy fresh fruit, oil for lamps, furniture for the home or a myriad of other items, you could find it all in the many shops.  There were  animals –sheep, goats, and birds for sale.  And the smell of fish –it was everywhere.  There was a smell from the streets that verified this was a productive market.  Baskets and pottery were there for household use, along with other items to aid the family in daily living.  I was quite enthralled as I had the privilege to visit a Jewish home where the entire family welcomed me.  I cannot forget walking by the Temple.  The elders looked so stern!

During my visit I heard much talk.  There was the talk that a baby had been born.  But not any baby.  This child was reported to be the promised Messiah — the Saviour of the World.  No one seemed to know for sure –but there was much talk, or gossip, about him.  Most seemed excited about the possible birth of this child.  They believed he would rescue them from the Romans who so controlled their lives.

I was caught up in the moment.  Suddenly, I joined a group of travelers — a tour guide was explaining many things to them.  As I followed, the group arrived at a stable. There was a couple with a new born child.  There it was declared that this was the Child — the Christ Child — the Promised Messiah — the King!  As with the shepherds who had come seeking Him, we all bowed before Him.  It was the first Christmas!  Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

I would like to tell you the rest of the story . . . .

But you need to experience it!  This is the presentation — so authentic — presented as Walk Through Bethlehem.  Richland Baptist Church has built the entire city –about a third of the size of the city in the day of the birth of Christ.  Tour guides lead you on this remarkable visit.  The reputation of this presentation has been well publicized.  I commend it to you.

But, alas, so many of you are too far away geographically.  But it does not mean that you cannot experience the birth of Christ this Christmas season.  The experience is in the heart — not in the streets of Bethlehem.  Christ Jesus will come to all who seek for Him.  Call Him to come into your life.  Know the fullness of life He offers.  What a wonderful Christmas season it becomes when we truly allow Him to enter our life.

“A Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)  “Though you have not seen him . . . you believe in him  and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8, 9)


P.S.  To those in the Tampa Bay area and north –Zephryhills, Dade City, etc.  Come visit us.  December 9, 10, 11, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.  My wife and I will find joy in greeting you!


1 Comment »

  1. Wish I could be there! Hope to come on the 28th when I am down visiting!

    Comment by Penny Mason Reedy — December 9, 2011 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

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