Monday, 02 December 2013 09:36

Where Are You Living Right Now?

Written by  Dr. Tim Thompson is pastor of Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery
Rate this item
(0 votes)

In the year 1247, the Roman Catholic Church built a hospital in England which was named St. Mary’s of Bethlehem.  It was a good hospital by the standards of the time, and within two generations it had gained considerable prominence as being one of the few hospitals in Europe where the mentally ill were treated like sick human beings instead of like animals.  

When Henry VIII seized all the property of the Roman Catholic Church in 1536, St. Mary’s of Bethlehem was completely converted into a mental hospital accommodating some fifty to sixty people.  The hospital reverted to an old-fashioned view of mental illness and it became nothing more than a holding pen for crazies and where people were just warehoused. 


In the dead of the night, surrounding residents could hear the distressed cries and clamors of the mentally ill people.  Throughout the years, the English people contracted the full name of the hospital, St. Mary’s of Bethlehem, to simply Bethlehem.  But the common people further contracted the word Bethlehem to the word Bedlam.  Hence, the beautiful idea of St. Mary’s of Bethlehem as a place to treat the ill became Bedlam, a new word for confusion and disorder.  It has remained to this day the standard word for disorder, and most people who use the word Bedlam have no idea it was a beautiful name of a healing institution called St. Mary’s of Bethlehem. 


It is an interesting thought to me during this Christmas season.  Where are you living right now?  Are you in Bethlehem or Bedlam?  Bedlam is a place of confusion, chaos, disorder, stress, pain.  Bethlehem is a place of peace, healing, serenity, and calm.  Where are you right now?  Are you living in Bethlehem or Bedlam?


All you have to do is turn on the news or read the papers daily and you read about a world that is in the midst of political, economic, cultural, and moral bedlam.  Even if you don’t watch the news, many of you have had plenty of turmoil and bedlam in your own life.  Nothing creates so much chaos and bedlam as the grief of loved ones lost, broken relationships, tight finances, lost jobs, guilt over bad choices, shattered dreams, broken hearts, chronic illnesses, over-scheduled days, and more to get done than seems possible.  We all know what bedlam is like.


I suppose that because there is so much bedlam, that God chose to reveal Himself in a baby named Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem.  God’s statement to you and me from Bethlehem is in Jesus Christ, there is a center of serenity, calm, and peace, even in a world filled with bedlam. 


Long before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesied about His birth in 9:16, “For unto us a child is born, a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders.  And He will be called wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Jesus brings peace.  In the birth announcement in Luke 2:13-14, the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”  The angels felt the presence of peace being born in Bethlehem.  Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you.”   Wherever Jesus lives there is peace.


So what will it be for you this Christmas, Bethlehem or bedlam?  Are you worn out from the bedlam?  Bethlehem is where you belong.  It is your true home.  No matter what the chaos outside, no matter the turmoil and stress and confusion in your own life, during this Christmas season I invite you to go to Bethlehem, the center of peace, calm, and serenity.



Dr. Tim Thompson is pastor of Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery.  He is married to Virginia and they have three children. Visit





Last modified on Thursday, 02 January 2014 10:39
Go to Top