I wonder what brought you to London. Many years ago I came to London hoping to find a satisfying job and seeking a life partner. The day after I arrived, I travelled on the tube to the centre of town, and emerged onto the street. And there was Her Majesty the Queen being driven past in a horse-drawn, golden carriage. I was astonished: was this really the place where dreams were fulfilled?
This may be something of what the magi (or ‘wise ones’) thought when they travelled to Jerusalem, looking for one to be born king of the Jews. But if they thought they’d find God in that great city, they were in for a surprise. For God revealed that the back-water town of Bethlehem was where they’d find God’s Promised One. It wasn’t what the magi had expected. But it was in Bethlehem that they were overwhelmed with joy.
One day, after a service at St Martin’s, I got into conversation with George. He told me how he’d been through a tough period when his wife had abandoned him. Then George asked if he could share what had happened during the service. “You may not believe this, but I met with God. I was sitting there, and I looked up, and there was the sun streaming through the East window, and the sun’s rays were lighting up the choir’s hair as they sang. And I had this overwhelming sense that it’s going to be alright.” This was no superficial sense that things would be OK; rather at a deep level George now knew he could trust that his life was held by God; that whatever difficulties he faced, he’d ultimately be alright. George hadn’t expected it. But St Martin’s had become his Bethlehem, a place where he was overwhelmed with God.
May 2018 be a year when you find your Bethlehem.
Revd Dr Alastair McKay