2 April, 2023

A ‘Frozen in Time’ Moment

by | 24 December, 2022 | 0 comments

In this, the penultimate Christmas memory we are sharing this year, Ken Idleman describes the transformational experience of worshipping in the Holy Land on Christmas Eve more than five decades ago. 

_ _ _

By Ken Idleman 

I have reflected many times on a particular “frozen in time” moment from my past . . .  

It was the winter of 1968, the break between semesters of my senior year in Bible college. Kaylene and I had been married the previous August and had determined that we would spend our first Christmas together in the Holy Land with Dr. Marion Henderson and 30 of our classmates.  

On December 24, we were scheduled to be in Bethlehem. That evening we found ourselves standing in Shepherd’s Field on Christmas Eve with 400 or so other pilgrims. It was a clear night with a light snowfall. It was deeply impacting to experience worship that night at the very spot where heaven’s angels announced to lowly shepherds that the Savior of the World had been born.  

We have never sung “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “Silent Night” the same way since that Christmas Eve. 

As I stood there that night, I could not help but think about how understated the birth of Jesus was. His arrival was not impressive. He came as a baby instead of a full-grown man. And Bethlehem is a village we would not even know about today had he not been born there.  

There were no trumpets or fireworks or any kind of elaborate production to let everyone on earth know that the God of the universe had arrived! He came to our planet as an infant, born to an underage peasant girl and a common laborer.  

For a few minutes on that night so long ago, the whole sky was ablaze with angels singing praises to God, but only a handful of shepherds actually heard them. Do you suppose the angels were a little disappointed? (“Boy, that was a downer—all that practice and only five people were in the audience tonight! And, they were shepherds! Shepherds have no influence and even less music appreciation!”)  

But Isaiah 55:8-9 declares,  

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  

And the upside-down way of Jesus was dramatically impressed on the world that night! 

Ken Idleman serves as vice president of leadership development for The Solomon Foundation. He served as the fourth president of Ozark Christian College and then as senior pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Newburgh, Ind. 


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