There is a beautiful Christmas hymn that is familiar to many. “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.” This little town of Bethlehem is the place where the Christ child of the Christian story was born. This child, central to the Christian faith, born into poverty to an unmarried, refugee couple in a foreign land, came to save us from ourselves, from our “sin,” from our inability to reach our full potential on this beautiful planet that we, for a brief time, call home.
The Christ child, born in a stable, became a holy yet humble man who brought a message of reconciliation to a hurting world, a world where the power brokers earned money off the hard labor of others, a world where the those of different traditions or cultures were despised, a world where women were mere dogs not even worthy of the crumbs from the table, a world where it was easy to persecute those who were different because they threatened a narrow world view.
He turned the tables on those collecting taxes from the poor, he challenged the powerful, he lifted up the marginalized, he ate and drank with the “other,” he fed the hungry without asking if they deserved it, he healed the sick because it was the right thing to do whether they were worthy or not, he never carried a sword to harm others, even telling his disciple Peter to put his away the night before he was to be killed. He shared a meal, had compassion and listened to the stories off all people regardless of nationality, faith tradition, gender, socio-economic condition or disability. He entered Jerusalem, the capital of corruption, not in a chariot of gold or surrounded by guards, but instead he entered barefoot and riding a donkey and still the people laid their cloaks before him and called him the Prince of Peace and sang "Hosanna (Savior) in the Highest."
This Christ child became a man who taught through his stories and his life that the best way to a fulfilled life, a thriving community and a peaceful world was to follow his “Way,” and to treat others as we would like to be treated, to feed the hungry, to heal the sick, to welcome the stranger, and to care for those who have the least among us.
But sadly, today the little town of peace and symbol of divine love is embroiled in violence, death and destruction. And the city of Jerusalem is at the center of a power struggle again. If we learned anything these past 2000 years, it should be that peace — peace through word and deed are the only ways to save the world, the planet and all life thereon ... and so may “we hear the Christmas angels the great tidings tell, o come to us, abide with us Emmanuel.” And bring Peace on Earth, Good will toward all.