Wednesday, December 16th Micah 5:2-5a

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace. Micah 5:2-5a

Remember the old television commercial featuring Andy Griffith and Ritz crackers? “Do you ever get that ‘what am I hungry for?’ feeling? How about something on a good Ritz cracker. Uuummmmm. Good cracker.”

One of those hungers is for peace.

Peace. Simple peace. Resolving differences with words, not wars. Living with our neighbors without stealing our neighbor’s stuff or they stealing ours. People dying of natural causes. Children unafraid to play outside of the house. How long have people hungered for peace?

Certainly Micah and his readers longed for peace. Micah told of One who would come, from the little town of Bethlehem, who would reign over peace in Israel, a peace that would extend to the ends of the earth.

The gospel writers remembered those words. They saw Jesus, born in Bethlehem, as the one who would bring peace on earth and good will to all.

I visited Bethlehem. I saw the Church of the Holy Nativity. Two features will stand out for me forever in that visit. The first is the door into the church off of Nativity Square. The door was bricked in so that it is only about 1/3 the height of a normal door. You have to bend low to enter it. But not out of respect for the space. It was bricked in to prevent mounted soldiers from riding in on horseback to attack those inside. Illusive peace.

Second, the Church of the Holy Nativity is controlled by three separate Christian groups – the Armenian Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church. It isn’t much of a working relationship, more of a demilitarized zone with strict lines of demarcation. Just two years ago a fight broke out among priests of two of the groups when one person allegedly placed a ladder just across a dividing line while everyone was cleaning up after the Christmas celebration. The fight lasted an hour and was broken up by Palestinian policemen, two of whom were injured. Still hungry for peace.

Where is this peace?

Who among us is waging peace?

Or will we always think that “I’m hungry for something” feeling will be filled with anything other than surrendering to the Prince of Peace and laying down our arms?

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, the world longs for peace, still longs for that peace promised long ago in Micah, expected in Jesus, but experienced by so few. Another Christmas is coming and the world is still at war. Soldiers are dying far from their families. People live in suffering upon suffering. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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