I could see the ancient, small town of Bethlehem in the distance as I approached the Shepherds Grotto, a small cave where shepherds have sheltered themselves for too many centuries to count. It was in these fields that something happened that is still being remembered and celebrated around the world. Angels appeared announcing an amazing event — the birth of the long-awaited Messiah.
I stood (and trembled) knowing that I was close to where shepherds saw angels. A simple field, a tiny cave — this holy place touched my heart. In the rush of holidays we can miss the hush of awe, the spiritual stirring that shows us the reality of God and His coming as a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
Like the shepherds in the Christmas event, I entered the little town of Bethlehem rejoicing and looking for the birth place of that Babe. It is a bit commercial. Manger Square is ready for tourists.
As I stood on some ancient stairs, near the Church of the Nativity, taking it all in, a young Palestinian boy walked up the stairs smiling at me. For some reason, I greeted him by speaking in tongues (a gift of the Holy Spirit that enables people to speak languages that they don’t know).
The young boy stopped in his tracks. His mouth fell open and he stared at me with a look of amazement. After a few seconds, he turned and walked away. Obviously he understood what I said. (He was used to hearing various languages from all over the world spoken by tourists in Bethlehem.) I have often wondered what I said to him. Supernatural events still happen.
Later I got in a long line waiting to enter the Church of the Nativity. People were in line to see what is regarded as the actual spot where Christ was born. We slowly wandered through hallways and down stairs. Finally, I could see people pausing, kneeling, touching, and even kissing a tile star in the floor under a very tiny cave by the basement wall.
Was this the exact spot of Jesus’ birth? I don’t know. It was close to the spot, since He was born in little Bethlehem. However, that’s not the important spot for you and me to locate.
Wise men came to Bethlehem, not to see the sights of the village, but to encounter the living Jesus Christ. Bethlehem remains, but Christ is no longer physically resting there. Now He is everywhere: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”
Now the holy spot is the human heart, where Christ is born to live in and transform individuals. And angels announce the news again and again! (There is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents.)