Written by Steven Liechty
Anthony B. Robinson
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel . . ." - Micah 5:2
The prophet Micah sings of "tiny Bethlehem." Pregnant Mary goes to visit her also pregnant cousin, Elizabeth. Mary sings her heart out to God who has "done great things" and "raised up the lowly."
Both Micah and Mary are stunned by the strange, and wonderful, ways of God.
Micah is a country guy, who can't get over the fact that God did not choose powerful, self-important Jerusalem as the place for the messiah to be born. No, God chose little, forgotten, out-of-the-way, "least of all" Bethlehem. Bethlehem, "lying still," as the carol says, because nothing ever happens in Bethlehem!
Mary, too, seems a most unlikely candidate for the role of "Mother of God." She is too young, too poor, and—one more thing—unwed. Really God, do you think this is proper? (Or as we say today "appropriate.")
Of course not! God's thoughts are not our thoughts and God's way not our ways. This God has a preferential option for the unlikely, a bent toward improper. God chooses little, out of the way places (and churches). God chooses people who are too young or too old, too this or too that. People and places that are full of themselves have, after all, no room for God.
And the good news is that since this God has a preferential option for the unlikely, you and I and our unlikely, impossible, imperfect and ordinary lives may be just where God chooses to come and be born new this year. Wonder of wonders, thanks be to God!
Surprise us again, O God. Come to the unexpected, the unlikely, to the humble, the sinful and the broken. Amen.
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.