HE SHALL BE PEACE!
 
In this, the fourth Sunday of Advent, our readings shift from the prophesies of the end times to the coming birth of Jesus and his true identity as the new David, the King and Priest who will rule over Israel forever - the new David who was promised by God so long ago. (2 Samuel 9:12)
 
In our first reading (Micah 5:1-4), the prophet Micah proclaimed the role of Bethlehem, the ancestral home of King David, as the birthplace of the savior Messiah, who would restore the children of Israel from the scattered lands. This is the prophesy referred to by the chief priests and scribes when asked by Herod where the Messiah was to be born. (Matthew 2:4-6)
 
Thus says the LORD: You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne, and the rest of his kindred shall return to the children of Israel. He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of the LORD, his God; and they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace
 
In our Gospel reading (Luke 1:39-45), we hear of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth was the first to proclaim the child in Mary's womb as "my Lord" as Elizabeth's own child in her womb "leaped for joy" at the sound of Mary's voice.
 
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
 
In our Epistle reading (Hebrews 10:5-10), we hear of Jesus's offering his own body in suffering for the sins of the world once, for all, in contrast to the repeated and imperfect sacrifices of the priests under the old law. "Behold, I come to do your will, O God."
 
Brothers and sisters: When Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight. Then I said, 'As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God.'"
 
First he says, "Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in." These are offered according to the law. Then he says, :Behold, I come to do your will." He takes away the first to establish the second. By this "will," we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
 
And so we take heart, it won't be long now. Our Christ is near, and when he comes, He Shall Be Peace! He is the source of the only peace that will rest our weary souls. May we take that peace into our hearts and may it rule our lives and our households. "Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King." --Andrae Crouch
 
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