Before Jesus’ birth, the angels appeared to some shepherds on the hillside outside Bethlehem. They came announcing good news of peace and renewal – tidings of comfort and joy.
We asked 25 people to prepare a meditation for us to read and listen to every day through Advent. We are delighted to share their work with you.
God bless you as you read, listen and pray.
Micah 5: 1 – 4
It’s 700 years before the first Christmas and Israel is in serious trouble. Life for the people of the time is overwhelming. Their country, their stability, their life as they know it is under threat. It’s just one thing after another, crisis after crisis. Circumstances are beyond their control and they have no choice but just to contend with whatever life throws at them. And whilst it would be an excellent time for strong, stable, just and Godly government, that doesn’t seem to be happening either. Sound familiar?
And in the midst of it, Micah, an Old Testament prophet is given a series of messages from God to share with these people. Not a set of platitudes that everything will be alright by tomorrow morning. No, Micah has strong words for the people and especially the leaders of this time and he is not afraid to challenge and convict. But, in the midst of all that darkness, danger and injustice, God’s message, through Micah, is framed in hope.
1 Marshal your troops now, city of troops,
for a siege is laid against us.
They will strike Israel’s ruler
on the cheek with a rod.
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.”
3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labour bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.
4 He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
5 And he will be our peace
Through Micah, God reassures his people that he has not forgotten them. He has not forgotten us. He has not forgotten you.
Through Micah he reminds them, and us, that hope does not come from the seat of human power: from a parliament or a palace, from Jerusalem, London or Washington DC. No, our hope springs forth from weakness, from a child of poverty born in a feeding trough, in a cattleshed, in a scruffy market town – Bethlehem.
700 years later, Jesus was born, king of the Jews in Bethlehem. This promise through Micah led the wise men, Gentiles, representatives of you and me, to find the child, Jesus.
2,700 years later we wait for the rest of the prophecy to be fulfilled. For a ruler who will lead us solely in God’s strength and in the majesty of God’s name. We long for the day when we will live securely, for ever. When Jesus’ greatness reaches to the ends of the earth and all is peaceful.
Until that day, as we wait. Let’s be people of hope. Let’s let this eternal hope shape our lives here and now. Even when we feel weak – perhaps especially when we are weak – God can use us, speak through us to bring hope to others. For if we believe the prophet Micah from all those years ago, the best, really is yet to come.