It's a weird sort of deja vous having a middle school girl in the house -- seeing her live through many of the same moments, struggles and joys I remember going through at that age. One of ChellBell's biggest distractions for the moment is a boy band called One Direction. She is particularly distracted by Harry Styles, which if you have actually seen his hair will realize that he was aptly named "Harry." This distraction is not too different from my own 1980's infatuation with Menudo, New Kids on the Block, and Duran Duran. My Mother rolled her eyes but knew what it was all about -- seriously, she had the Beatles and Elvis.
So being a good Mom, I was online at precisely the moment concert tickets went on sale and spent the equivalent of a plane ticket to France to get Chella tickets to see Harry and his gang in the flesh. (Don't get too excited -- the concert is 8 months from now, so it will be a while before I see the joy on her face that justifies the expense of the tickets and the bewildered confusion from the hubby when explaining my purchase).
When I went online to get tickets, there was a VIP package that would allow Chella to actually meet the band and spend time backstage with them. Backstage with One Direction -- I can't imagine too many things that my daughter would want more. Unfortunately, the price was a bit restrictive at $1000 per ticket for the experience, so Chella will have to settle with seeing them from afar.
ChellBell is starting to learn that in life, most people watch from afar. It's the minority who are backstage or up close, meeting celebrities or rubbing elbows with the rich and famous. It's the minority who have the right bank accounts or the right name or the right affiliation to have inner-circle invitations and experiences. Unfortunately, those kind of encounters are not open to the general public -- we can't just all hop backstage and hang out with Harry Styles. That's reserved for the few who can afford it, rather than the masses.
At church this morning, I had the privilege of sharing the Bethlehem story with my little friends in PreK and Kindergarten, telling about the long journey made by Mary and Joseph so many years ago, and what was undoubtedly utter disappointment and frustration when they couldn't find a hotel room in Mary's late stage of pregnancy. And - as we all know - they ended up in a barn, with Jesus being laid in a food trough shortly after his birth. And then the Angels sent the message to the shepherds -- considered the lowliest of people -- that a Savior had been born.
For many years, I thought God planned Jesus' birth in the barn -- a lowly place -- because he thought of us as lowly. And that He first reached out to the shepherds because Jesus came for the lowly.
But it finally dawned on me that God placed Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in a barn, because the barn was open to everyone. If Jesus had been born in a palace, the guards would have only let the elite in, and everyone else would have had to watch from afar. Even if Jesus had been born inside the warm walls of a Bethlehem inn, surely the Inn Keeper would have judiciously chosen who was allowed to come in and see the Son of God and who needed to stay back behind the velvet rope and watch from afar. But the barn doors were open to the public. There were no special Ticketmaster VIP passes required. Everyone could get to Him. The Savior. The God of the Universe in flesh. Everyone could access Him.
God came to us in a lowly place, not because he thought of us as lowly, but because he wanted to extend the backstage pass to the general public -- to give everyone a chance to meet Him. Stand in a room with Him. Come face to face with Him. Not just those who have the right bank accounts or the right names or the right affiliations. Those things don't matter to Him. He wants all of us to have access to Him and to not have to watch from afar. He came for all of us, to know us, to give us hope.
"In a lowly manger sleeping, Calm and still a Babe we see, 'Tis the Holy Child of promise, Light of all the world is He."
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