Gordon-Conwell Blog

Little Town | An Advent Prayer

December 23, 2012

Amy Gilbaugh

O little town of Bethlehem, you look so tiny on that hill. The way you’ve tucked yourself round with grassy hills reminds me that you are the young one among these little towns. With small stars and still air, all is silent this night. Each baby tucked in bed, every parent resting their heads; every eye closed, every shepherd dozed off. Even the sheep are asleep.

But while you’re lying there in the dark, there’s a star that stands among the rest!

While you’re lying there in peace, the black expanse is ripping open like a piece of cloth. There, against the night sky, light-filled figures bellow, “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid!”

But you’re not.

You’re not afraid.

You’re not even awake.

They say, “He’s here! He’s here! He’s finally here! The King of heaven has come to earth and He has picked you, O little town! He’s sleeping in your manger tonight; right there, right over that hill, right beneath your stars! You don’t have to wait anymore!”

But you’re not.

You’re not waiting.

You’re not even awake.

O little town, you’re missing it! God wrapped Himself in the flesh of your kind and stepped down onto your turf tonight. Little one, wake up! There’s another Little One here among you tonight and He is the One you’re heard of, the One the stories are about, the One who will be your Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!

O little town, you missed it.

You missed it.

The honor of host was yours, and you couldn’t stay awake. It was once written of you, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2) But the pen must now continue: “there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

You missed it. …

Tonight is a silent night.

The sky is black and speckled with little stars. The air is cool and still. The hills are covered in frost and each blade of grass stands motionless in the winter air. We’ve tucked ourselves in once again. Knees pulled to our chest and blankets wrapped around, we can’t help but think on your night of slumber. In our tiny rooms, in this little town, this silent night is much like Yours. These eyelids of ours are heavy, too, and the pointing finger lowers.

Because we’ve heard stories as well; stories of a night when He will come again. We’ve heard the sky will slash, the King will come, and His will join Him! These tired pages in our lap on which host your narrative remind us

to be ready, to be waiting, to be awake.

And we are.

Everything in us cries out for our Love to come! To rend the heavens, to come down! To burst through the sky with authority and promise and pull us toward the sky to His side. Our hearts ache, our eyes squint, our mind longs

Silent night after silent night.

And from the dark stillness

of this midnight hour

comes the hopeful whisper

“perhaps tonight is the night.”

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: advent devotional , Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger

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