Apparently I was the last shepherd in the hills to get the memo.
Bethlehem means “house of bread” in Hebrew.
I’ve been pondering this new to me news for the better part of a week now with no apparent diminished delight. Suspecting my newfound factoid of Jesus’ birthplace was taught in that single sermon I must have slept through, I posed the question to my peeps in the village and surrounding virtual metropolitian areas of twitter and Facebook.
The good news (aside from the divinely obvious) is that I might only be the second to last shepherd in the hills to learn that Jesus, the Bread of Life, was born in the House of Bread. So what does a newly educated shepherd do with such precious news? She goes and tells it on the mountain, of course. And then she bakes a delicious Bethlehem Bread (click for recipe) with her Little Shepherds in Training. I am aware that deeming our recipe Bethlehem Bread is as redundant as pannini sandwich, but we are humble shepherds, and after all, it is what it is.
What it is, to me, is a glorious glimmer of sparkling detail that the Author of Life chose to pen in His great love story for us. That with the stroke of His inerrant ink and quill gave life to the words Beth meaning house and Lehem bread. Then the Author unfolds the drama of the nativity in this sacred place Bethlehem, as Emmanuel – God with Us, fully divine and fully human, is born unto Mary, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. And while I’m wearing the robe of astonished shepherd, manger is the French verb meaning “to eat.” Which points my simple mind straight to the breaking of the bread at the Last Supper, bringing the salvation story full circle.
As the season of Advent inches closer to Christmastime, this precious time of waiting and wondering, at once looking back and hoping forward, never ceases to astonish. In the stillness of the anticipation, I reflect on the truth that our hopes and fears of all the years were met when the Bread of Life was born to us in the little town of Bethlehem.
Come thou long expected Jesus!
Merry Christmas, friends.