Micah speaks of little Bethlehem suddenly becoming great. The greatness will come about not because Bethlehem suddenly grows, develops a great advertising campaign, or is discovered to be the center of a natural resource like gold or oil. No, the little town of Bethlehem will become great by the visitation of the Lord, what the Lord causes to happen there.
Many of the places the Bible commemorates are small, seemingly insignificant. Judah is not a large country. Even Israel under David and Solomon was no vast, expansive empire. Many towns and villages mentioned in the Bible are hard to locate today. The Jordan River, so significant in the biblical narrative, is a small river when compared to the Nile, the Euphrates, or the Mississippi. What makes any of these places important, what leads to their being mentioned in the Bible, is that they are places where encounters with God occur.
Any place takes on special meaning in our lives when we view it as a site where we have encountered God. It may be in a sanctuary during worship, on a retreat with other Christians, sitting on a bench in the park, in a corner of a coffee shop; but when it suddenly becomes a place where God’s presence has visited us, our “little Bethlehem” becomes a center of peace in our lives.
Like Bethlehem, the places of our God-encounters may seem tiny and the least noticeable, but they become great places in our lives. Today many travel each year to the small Judean town of Bethlehem because God once visited it in the birth of God’s Son.

Shepherd, thank you for the places in my life that have been filled with your presence and where I have experienced your peace. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 1:39-55

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Lectionary Week
December 17–23, 2018
Scripture Overview

As Christians we understand that our faith is rooted in the ongoing story of God’s faithfulness to God’s people. Micah celebrates this story, prophesying that the true king of Israel will one day come from the small village of Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace. Luke features women prominently throughout his Gospel. The two readings from Luke this week highlight the prophetic insights of Elizabeth and Mary. Mary visits Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John, God’s messenger. After Elizabeth identifies Mary as the mother of the Lord, Mary breaks into song, understanding that her story is tied to the fulfillment of God’s promises going back to Abraham. Little does she know that her son will one day offer his body as a sacrifice for all, as Hebrews tells us.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Micah 5:2-5a. What “small” beginnings have yielded great results in your life?
• Read Psalm 80:1-7. How does this psalm of lament speak to you? When has God restored you and shone the light of divine love on you?
• Read Hebrews 10:5-10. What do you believe God desires from you? In what ways does Jesus’ life of obedience help you understand God’s intention for you and the world?
• Read Luke 1:39-55. When have you been stopped in your tracks by meeting unexpectedly an old acquaintance? How did God speak to you in that encounter?

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