It would be unAnglican to this waste this Christmas by failing to mention how Trump has ruined it for everyone by planning to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
With that in mind, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem has, at last, been correctly interpreted by Fred Hiltz. It is all about the Israelis with their nasty wall, ugly checkpoints, and preposterous obsession with trying to prevent their citizens being murdered by rampaging Palestinians. Most of all, it’s about Trump moving his stupid embassy.
Brooks speaks of the town’s stillness and its undisturbed sleep above which “the silent stars go by”. Then he speaks of the beauteous light that shines in its streets, as the birth of the Messiah becomes known. As we hold our candle, and focus on this lovely text, we might think of how far a cry the Bethlehem of today is from the stillness and peace of which the carol speaks. Stark images of the massive Separation Wall come to mind, as do images of the heavily guarded check point through which people must pass in and out of the city. In many respects, Brooks’ words “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight” are a fitting commentary on the circumstances in which people live there. They live with hope for the peace God intends, however elusive it may be, however challenging to negotiate and secure. They live with fear that developments such as the world has witnessed in recent weeks will escalate political tensions in their city, in Jerusalem, Gaza, and throughout the Middle East. So as we hold our candle and sing, we think of all those for whom this “little town” is home, all those who know its history and cling to its destiny in the sight of God.