Thursday, December 20, 2018

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Although it may be hard to tell now, when I was younger I was quite the runner.  My parents were crazy and started making me run competitively when I was four years old.  By the age of seven we were traveling across the country to compete in national cross country and track races.  This continued through my childhood and into my teenage and high school years, until my knees and legs decided they had enough pounding.  Being that immersed in running, one of my idols growing up was Steve Prefontaine.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Steve Prefontaine, he was a US Olympian from the University of Oregon who finished 4th in the 5,000m at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and died tragically in a car accident before the next Olympics.  At the time of his death at the age of 24, Prefontaine held every American distance record between the 2,000m and 10,000m.  Even in his short life, he became the greatest American distance runner in history and if it wasn’t for his tragic death, he may have become the greatest distance runner in the world.  There have been multiple movies made about his life, but my favorite is simply titled “Prefontaine.”  There is a scene in the movie where he is talking about what motivates him and drives him and he says “All my life people have been telling me ‘you’re too small Pre,’ ‘you’re not fast enough Pre,’ ‘give up your foolish dreams Steve.’” But he didn’t listen to those critics, he knew that he was destined for greatest. 

You may be thinking, that’s great Matt but its 4 days before Christmas, why are you talking about some random runner from the 70s?  Great question – this weekend in our first reading we hear the passage from Micah foretelling the greatness that would come from the town of Bethlehem.  When the people heard the prophet Micah first speak that message, they must have thought he was crazy. Bethlehem? Nothing good will ever come from Bethlehem, it’s too small, it’s the smallest of the towns of Judah, no one knows Bethlehem, and no one cares about Bethlehem.  Why would God choose Bethlehem?  Little did they know that one day, Jesus, the Son of God, would be born to a virgin, in a stable, in that little, unimportant town.

God doesn’t care if you are the biggest or the smallest, the fastest or slowest, the richest or poorest.  God loves you because you are you.  You are enough.  You are a beautiful child of God.  He is calling each one of us to greatness.  Every day he calls you to be the greatest version of yourself that you can be. Let me say that again, You are enough.  You are enough. You are enough.

One of my favorite sayings that I reflect on often is that “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” No one is too small, too young, too little or too unimportant to do amazing things if they are open to God’s will.  God chose little, unimportant Bethlehem to be the birthplace of the Savior of the World, just think what great things he is choosing you for!

May you and your loved ones all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and blessed New Year!

Matthew Bensman

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