"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, ancient times." (Micah 5:2)
I have always thought that if I had been living after the time of Micah's prophecy, I would have camped out in Bethlehem and watched for the birth of every male child in hopes that this would be The One.
If not that, then maybe keeping tabs with Anna and Simeon, who did watch the temple and had been promised to see the Messianic child before their deaths.
Chances are, based on the fact that most during the early journey of our Savior missed Him completely, I would have been more like them; more like those who had lost focus on the spiritual, and were willing to settle for something physical and far below the blessing that God had intended for us to receive.
This week, church families at Ham Lane Church of Christ, Vinewood Community, Temple Baptist, First Baptist and Emanuel Lutheran churches are continuing our journey through "The Story," making an important transition from the Old Testament to the New. In this our 22nd lesson, we come to the birth of Jesus.
An event like none other in human history — besides the later Resurrection — erupts onto the ongoing story of God's unfolding. Unlike the times that were ripe for the implementation of God's Upper Story, the people had settled into common dullness that hardly took notice in the lower one.
So when the events that creation had been looking for since the Fall occurs, all but a few are looking the other way. In an unimaginable nursery and crib, Jesus lay his head to the silence of mankind but the applause of heaven.
While kings and religious rulers go about enhancing their wealth and position, Jesus is introduced to the sights, sounds and smells of a manger. His earthly adoration comes in the form of lowly shepherds who would come from fields near where King David had tended his flocks.
They were hardly in a position to trumpet his coming, but instead lent a common touch, foretelling the nature of the ministry of Jesus to the lost of the world.
Common things are the theme of the occasion. From an unremarkable but faithful Jewish maiden, to surrounding family willing to hear the pronouncement of God, to the everyday means of transportation on a donkey, traveling to be counted for tax purposes like everyone else.
But, don't let the commonness of the days in Bethlehem fool you. Big things are afoot in the Upper Story of God. Wise men are preparing for a journey to confirm that a King has come to the world. A jealous earthly king will soon try to protect his "turf" by killing the male babies.
Angels will guide the protection of heaven's child to Egypt while Herod does his worst. A godly mother and father will guide the early growth of a young man who is keenly aware that a shadow of a cross appears on the floor of a carpenter's shop. He will amaze his spiritual leaders and be found in His father's house and assume that it is as natural as breath to him.
The next 18 years are a little blurry. We await the further actions of this Son of God, son of Man. The Upper Story of God and the Lower Story of man are on a collision course.
Join us in the weeks to come to see its mystery revealed. If you can't wait ... pick up your Bible and dive in.
As a word of caution ... from the time of Jesus, the days have been described as "the day of Salvation." Let us not become like our first-century counterparts. It's possible for us to be minding earthly things and miss the heavenly. Don't let it be you or yours.
Ron Downey is a part of the ministerial staff at Ham Lane Church of Christ.