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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Scripture Reading | Isaiah 9:6–7

 For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
    and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (NRSV)

Reading these verses makes me want to sing Handel’s Messiah. And once you get it into your head, it’s hard to get rid of it. But that’s fine with me because it’s one of my favorite things about this season. Imagine that this music was written 275 years ago and we are still singing it every year at this time.

The joyous celebration of the coming of the Prince of Peace hasn’t changed much spiritually in the two thousand plus years since the actual event in Bethlehem. Every year Christians the world over celebrate the wonder of the birth of Christ in much the same way. A few years ago, a group of us from Fourth Church went to Israel and visited Bethlehem. It was a moving experience to be in the same place where it is believed that the manger was located.

Bethlehem is situated in the West Bank and is just six miles from Jerusalem. The West Bank is surrounded by a tall concrete wall in an attempt to keep peace between Palestinian and Israeli neighbors. In order to get to the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, you must pass through a security checkpoint. It’s a stark reminder that keeping the peace in many parts of the world is a difficult task.

Isaiah 9:7 promises that there will be “endless peace.” I wonder how it will ever be true in my lifetime. My daily prayer is that each of us finds a way to contribute meaningfully to this promise. Sometimes it’s difficult to see how one person can make a difference, but the reality is that each of us has been given the power of the Holy Spirit to do so. It is up to me to envision and proactively seek a better world—one day at a time.

Creator God, your world is a peaceful place of hope and joy during Advent and can be all year long. Guide us in the ways in which we can contribute to making it so. Forever and ever. Amen.

Written by Lesley Conzelman, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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