Several years ago, I was scheduled to lead a group to the Holy Land, when a major flare up of tension happened. The company I was traveling with postponed all trips. In order to keep those postponed trips scheduled, they chose to take current trip hosts and potential hosts on a one-week trip to show that travel could be done safely.
In the course of the trip, we arrived in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity, a church built to commemorate the birth of Christ.
Now perhaps you think of the stable where Jesus was born as being more like a barn, a wooden structure. I don’t want to mess with your Christmas thoughts too much, but it’s most likely that Jesus was born in a cave. In a land with more rocks than trees, Bethlehem has it’s share of caves. In fact, the Church of the Nativity is built over a cave or series of caves.
In one of the caves is the “birthplace of Jesus.” Here’s a picture of the supposed site highly decorated.
After going with the tour to view this area of the cave, our group entered another section of the caves. It was here, near where Jesus was born, in the town of his birth, that our group sang, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
In the midst of a crisis in the Holy Land, we sang,
“Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light.”
It could be conflict in our world. In our country. In our streets.
We talk about peace. We talk about peace between countries and peace between neighbors. We talk about coming to peace with our inner demons.
But true peace is more than the absence or ceasing of conflict.
Peace is a quiet assurance that allows us to deal with any circumstance because our confidence is not found in ourselves or in others. We have confidence in the One who said to the wind and waves, “Peace, be still.” The One who said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)
May we find peace in relationship to the Prince of Peace.
This Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Advent and we light the candle of peace.
“O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel!”