THE SKY ANTHEM
Preached in Holy Land journey
T. DeWitt Talmage
At last I have what I longed for, a Christmas Eve in
the Holy Land. This is the time of year that Christ
landed. This wintry month saw his arrival. This is the
chill air through which he descended. I look up
through these Christmas skies, and I see no loosened
star hastening southward to halt above Bethlehem, but
all the stars suggest the Star of Bethlehem. No more
need that any of them run along the sky to point
downward. In quietude they kneel at the feet of him
who, though once an exile, is now enthroned forever.
Fresh from a visit to Bethlehem, I am full of the
scenes suggested by a visit to that village. You know
that whole region of Bethlehem is famous in Bible
story. There were the waving harvests of Boaz, in
which Ruth gleaned for herself and weeping Naomi.
There David the warrior was thirsty, and three men of
unheard of self-sacrifice broke through the Philistine
army to get him a drink. It was to that region that
Joseph and Mary came to have their names enrolled in
the census. That is what the Scripture means when it
says they came "to be taxed," for people did not in
those days rush after the assessors of tax any more
than they now do.
The village inn was crowded with the strangers who had
come up by the command of government to have their
names in the census, so that Joseph and Mary were
obliged to lodge in the stables. We have seen some of
those large stone buildings, in the center of which
the camels were kept, while running out from this
centre in all directions there were rooms, in one of
which Jesus was born. Had his parents been more
showily appareled I have no doubt they would have
found more comfortable entertainment. That night in
the field the shepherds, with crook and kindled fires,
were watching their flocks, when, hark! to the sound
of voices strangely sweet. Can it be that the maidens
of B ...
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