Bethlehem was busy as it was Census time. There were family reunions as people returned to their home town to register. The available accommodation was full. There was much conversation and catching up to do and no doubt moaning about the authorities who had effectively imposed this journey, with all its inconvenience, upon them.
In all of the business, perhaps even chaos, that was Bethlehem that day, no one took any notice of a young couple arriving to do their civil duty. She was heavily pregnant but there were probably others in the same condition. They came to fulfil the requirements of the Roman authorities but they came with a much greater purpose as the human agents in the fulfilment of a promise made centuries before.
That night the world changed, but who knew?
The announcement of the change was made by a heavenly choir of massive size but as far as the biblical records tell us it was only a group of SHEPARDS who responded.
These shepherds were out on the hills around Bethlehem watching over their sheep when
an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
An angel of the Lord appeared
The glory of the Lord shone around them
They were (understandably) afraid
Suddenly a multitude of the heavenly host appeared praising God.
Why, apparently, did no one else in Bethlehem see and hear this unique event?
Simply we are not told. It is dangerous to come to conclusions without evidence but I cannot help wondering if the noise and attraction of the world as people ate and drank, renewed old friendships at this time of Census and talked politics in relation to Roman rule, simply drowned out the greatest news of the moment that
Unto you is born a Saviour.
As I wonder, I have to ask is it not still the same today?
Christmas is being celebrated with food, drink, parties, family reunions, nightclubs (till they are closed!) The western world it seems, is obsessed with Trans and LBGTQ issues and there is fear caused by geopolitical posturing. Chaotic government and the Omicron strain of COVID19 all too easily take centre stage in our thinking and the noise of these, and many other things, prevent the message of the angels and the singing of the multitude of the heavenly host being heard.
Lord, in the confusion of this broken world, grant me ears to hear as the shepherds heard and the courage to act on what I hear. May my life glorify and praise you and so be instrumental in sharing the message with all who will hear that
Unto you is born a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.