Micah 5: 2-4 (NRSV)
2 [a] But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
to the people of Israel.
4 And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;…
Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, God called Micah to be a prophet. His job was to speak the truth of the Lord to the people of Judah. You see, the people had turned from God to live as if God did not exist. Their history was one of a small, vulnerable nation threatened by larger, more powerful warring nations that wanted to rule them and take their resources. There seemed to be no peace or hope.
But, God had something else in mind, and chose Micah to deliver a message of hope, a message that Judah would not always be vulnerable. Even the little town of Bethlehem would become important someday because one would arrive there to tend the people and give them a new kind of security. In verse 5, this one is named as one of peace. Micah’s message is filled with hope for all who are vulnerable and insecure as they look to the future.
Every Christmas Eve, a small group of us stay after midnight to tidy up the sanctuary, remove candle wax from where it shouldn’t be, and make sure all the candles are collected and put where they belong. When we walk out to the parking lot, it’s usually cold and crisp and starlit. There is something in that moment when the sacred meets the ordinary, and we know that something special has happened. It is the same sense of security and hope that Micah promised: a promise that renews us and gives us joy as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the one of peace.
Rev. Kathleen Athey