Advent first ended in Bethlehem

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.

And he will be our peace

Micah 5:2-5a

Trouble is an inevitable part of life. And even an untroubled life here, is not without quandaries and questions. Because no matter how hard we try (or fail to try), something either not really right or completely good will remain. It’s as if the tune is not only on minor key at least a bit (which isn’t altogether bad, in fact sometimes good), but off key, dissonant, not altogether a good piece at all.

But that’s when the promise of Advent in the Christ Child, the Messiah comes to play. And Bethlehem certainly is marked with that venture of God, forever as the place where the King of Heaven came to earth to bring the ultimate peace and good to all. Now meant to be present in and through Jesus in the church, even through us as God’s people in a primal beginning sense, with the promise of King Jesus’ return when all wrongs are made right once for all, and nothing is amiss or out of place in the Love that fills the earth.

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 wondering love.
O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on 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 Emmanuel!

Phillips Brooks

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