“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come.”Revelation 4:8b
As a child, I spent a lot of time in the country. My wife and I have tried our best to help our children enjoy the country life, as well, with trips to our family’s farm in east Texas. There is far too much chaos in the city. One of our favorite family activities was filling the bed of my truck with pillows and blankets effectively turning it into a giant pallet. We would drive out to the middle of the field on clear nights and lay on our backs in the bed of the truck, staring up at the stars. It’s amazing what you can see when you have no light pollution. The stars at night really are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas. As bright as we believe our stars to be, how much brighter were the stars on that blessed night in Bethlehem?
I’ve also had the privilege of being in the biblical town of Bethlehem at night. It’s a much different place now than it was two thousand years ago. Prayer towers from another religion regularly blast sirens over the holy site where Jesus was born. Tourists are everywhere. But there is still something surreal and special about being in that place— especially around Christmas!
The Shepherd’s Field is a meadow with caves on the outskirts of what would have been Bethlehem in Jesus’ day. Because of its special place in history, it has been preserved for the most part. It may be surrounded by modern development now, but you can still go and see where tradition says the shepherds first heard the good news of Jesus’ birth. As I sat quietly in an area that could have been surrounded by sheep and shepherds all those years ago, I could hear in my heart the angel choir and “harps of gold” mixed with the baa-ing of sheep.
The last line of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” says, “And the whole world give back the song which now the angels sing.” My heart longs for the day when the whole world gives back the song in praise to Christ that the angels so freely sing. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty Who was, and is, and is to come.” Jesus may have arrived in the peaceful quiet of Bethlehem, but He will come again with great fanfare. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
There are very few places where we can go today and be free from the light and noise pollution of the world. But as we are given a reminder of history when we gaze upon the bright and beautiful stars, may our hearts yearn for that day when we join the angel chorus to give back that which they now freely sing.