by Joyce Carr Stedelbauer
O little town of Bethlehem
how still we see thee lie
Slingshots sing a sorry hymn o’er Bethlehem’s fields,
sheep shudder at the mournful whine of mortar music.
Souvenir shops stand empty with hosts of silent angels,
Nativity Church in Manger Square looms in loneliness.
The Eye of the Needle is closed to worshipers,
and Rachel’s Tomb is soldiered against prayer.
Above thy deep and dreamless streets
the silent stars go by
An aching sun will rise o’er rubbled streets,
anxious women hurrying early to the well.
The men labor repairing ravage from the night,
and children gather rocks before the school bell.
Shepherds calm frightened flocks in their fields
while sandbags are stacked against blue doors.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting Light
Candles of conciliation sputter hopefully,
healers of hurts work long and feverishly,
the faithful gather quietly in dark homes to pray.
Warm bread is baking in Bethlehem –
the house of bread –
and we long for the coming of the Prince of Peace.
The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.
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