If only that three-way handshake meant the answer to the Christmas song!

If only that three-way handshake meant the answer to the Christmas song! How many times has the world witnessed the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian people and the United States clasp hands in a renewed pledge to seek peace in the Holy Land. Three nations, three religions, one prayer. Still unanswered.

From Annapolis, Maryland, the Associated Press reported yet another agreement this week: “Sealing their pledge with an awkward handshake, Israeli and Palestinian leaders resolved Tuesday to immediately restart moribund peace talks. President Bush said he will devote himself to ending the six-decade conflict in the 14 months he has left in office” (South Bend Tribune 11-28-07).

Political, ethnic and religious differences aside, who wouldn’t pray for peace in the Middle East? After all, the angels high in that Bethlehem midnight sang out the promise at the birth of Jesus, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward all” (Luke 2:14). Certainly those of us who believe the Christmas story could lead the way in praying for peace in that troubled region, couldn’t we? And not just because we have loved ones, as Karen and I and thousands of other families do, serving in the military in far away Iraq (or Afghanistan or Kosovo or Korea) this Christmas. But simply because the Christ Child was born (in the Middle East) that there might indeed be peace on earth one day. Couldn’t that day come now?

Believing it could, I’d like to invite you to join me in praying for peace this season of Christ’s birth. Would you be willing to add the Middle East to your early morning prayer list? And pray for the political leaders of that region. Pray for the spiritual leaders, too. Pray for the suffering, the frightened, the angry, the disenfranchised. Pray for the leaders of our own governments. Pray the song of the angels, that the Gift of Christmas might yet bring His peace to our lands in this lifetime. Wouldn’t it make a peace-difference if morning by morning we all clasped hands in prayer with the only One who can yet fulfill six decades of handshakes and bring His peace on earth, goodwill toward all?

While the angels still sing, let us pray.