From Everlasting, From Bethlehem, Peace

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has given birth
...
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.”

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
    and passing over transgression
    for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
    because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
    into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
    and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
    from the days of old.” Micah 5:2-5a; 7:18-20

The Person is forever, eternal God, the Ancient of Days, who is from everlasting to everlasting. And His promise is forever, spoken and sustained by His knowledge and power to perform. Jesus came to earth in Bethlehem as the fulfillment of God’s pledge, a branch from Jesse, the Prince of Peace to redeem the broken and estranged, to make enemies friends and strangers His children. (Psalm 90:1-2; Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:1; Daniel 7:9,13; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14-16)

Do we know this God who offers peace that is otherworldly? Have we received His forgiveness that puts the misery of sin and conviction to rest, and His exquisite reconciliation that plants true peace in our souls? Are we daily trusting Him with every anxious concern and stress, by prayer and with thanksgiving, inviting His peace as the guardian of heart and mind? How consistently are we abiding in His presence that brings peace in and into the midst of relational, emotional, and circumstantial storms? (Psalm 32:1-6; 107:23-31; Isaiah 26:3; Mark 4:35-39; John 14:27; Ephesians 2:1-5; Philippians 4:6-7)

“O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by;
yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary,
and, gathered all above
while mortals sleep, the angels keep
their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together
proclaim the holy birth,
and praises sing to God the King
and peace to all the earth.

How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him, still
the dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray,
cast out our sin and enter in,
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Immanuel!” ~Phillips Brooks (1868)

Plant Your peace within, dear Lord, that I might live it out in this frenzied, fearful world.

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