Micah 5:2, 4
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
Micah lived about 700 years before Jesus, at a time of turmoil in Israel, just before the fall of Samaria. Why did he identify Bethlehem, and not Jerusalem, as the home of the longed-for Messiah and King?
Bethlehem was the home of Ruth and Boaz. They were the parents of Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David. Bethlehem was where the great king David grew up. It was where he was a shepherd and lived on his father’s farmstead.
Shepherding involves caring, feeding, nurturing. As an aspect of kingship, it is central to the vision of ideal kingship of which the prophets foretold, and God promised.
Reflecting on this draws to our attention how time is not linear, and certainly not for God. 2 Peter 3:8 says that for God ‘one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day’. God has a plan, and although Ruth was generations before David, and David many generations before Jesus, God had it all in mind.
What are you waiting for in your life at the moment? Where is there uncertainty and lack of clarity, where you long for it all to make sense and come together? Certainly, for society at large, we are dealing with waiting for COVID to be addressed, and restrictions to lift and some sense of normality to return, even though it will never be quite the same again.
Julian of Norwich reassured us that with God, all will be well, and all manner of things shall be well. Can we hold onto that reassurance? Receive nourishment from it, and let it be our succour as we wait for Christmas, the end of COVID, the things that worry us to resolve, for the Second Coming?
Let us pray:
O Child of Bethlehem, O Great King, O Shepherd of your sheep,
Be our hope, our sustenance, our nourisher.
Help us hold to the faith and trust in you that knows that you will come again.
You will come in the Christ-child at Christmas,
And you will come again to take us into eternity with you at the Second Coming.
Feed us, nurture as, and care for us as we wait
And help us to know that in you all manner of things will be well,
Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.