There is no peace in Bethlehem tonight.
The way is blocked, the borders sealed;
The sky is bright with stars,
And the moon glances off the barrel of a gun.
The donkey’s corpse lies rotting by the road,
His bones picked bare by scavengers.
And pregnant mothers yield their weight
To an uneasy, apathetic world. Who will open the gates to Bethlehem
And straighten the highway to Jerusalem?
A road once lined with orange and olive
Now broken by the oppressor’s blade.
Life triumphs over death in Israeli fields,
The vines flourish behind the barbed wire;
And the olive ripens in the sun. Bulldozed fields make way for bypass roads
With guard rails; and Israeli settlers
Whose cars pass by like Levites,
Take no notice of the silence on the hillsides. The way of the cross was political too.
Despised by the powers that be, rejected by his own,
Cast out, denied, a prophet without a home.
Jesus was crucified outside the city walls.
And laid to rest in another man’s tomb.
There is no peace in Bethlehem tonight,
And Christ is crucified again and again, today…. One star among the brightest of the best,
Its checkpoint spotlight glare
Is searching, searing in each human soul.
For truth will out; the human voice released
Like herald angels, will ring out o’er the world,
No peace in Bethlehem, no peace on earth? Truth is the way to peace;
And truth is here tonight
Incarnate in the heart and vine,
The soul of Bethlehem, the soul of humankind. O Jerusalem, my tears pour forth for you,
They wipe the feet of my neighbours
As Jesus washed the feet of his companions,
And Mary’s tears anointed his,
Before he gave himself for your salvation. O Jerusalem, he who wept over you
Now weeps for all his people
Who wither like the figs on the branch
And lie fallow in their fields. The olive branch still offers its fragile strength
To bear his weight,
Its soured fruit to sponge his drying lips and dying frame,
And nourish his people
Before they too yield their souls to the earth;
For the myrrh-bearers are at work in the field. O Bethlehem, the tears that flow for you,
Reach down into your barren soil,
To turn the mustard into gold,
They fill the potter’s jars with wine,
And cause the almond tree to blossom at winter’s end,
Its flowering a sign that spring will come
And with it, the resurrection of the body. There is no peace in Bethlehem tonight.
The locals are buying tape to seal their doors
And stocking up supplies.
The world lies uneasy on the brink of war
As U.S. fighter planes fly over the Gulf
And Canadian frigates are dispatched
To lie in wait for escort duty.
Officials are handing out gas masks
To diplomats, foreign workers and tourists.
But not to Palestinians – yet. Turn back Jerusalem and see the dispossessed of the land,
The ones whose roots run deep as yours.
Then open your gates and call them home:
The refugees, the prisoners, the oppressed,
The lame, the blind, the people of your God.
And sound the trumpet call of Jubilee to all –
So that there can be peace in Bethlehem tonight.