Following recent advice to play with words in today’s post. What words are you studying recently, challenged by, learning from, at play with?
Scholars will tell you that Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born, has a double meaning in Hebrew, that a slight turn of the tongue is all that lies between “The House of Bread” and “The House of War.”
It was through these strange crossroads that Jesus entered the world, and also how He left it: breaking bread with His disciples, on the brink of war. In Bethlehem, the Bread of Life was given for the world, nourished by sweet milk, and presented at the temple, where His parents were told that their child had come bearing a sword. Its sharp edge would divide the hearts of many, and cause the rising and falling of the people of God. And so the infant-God was born, bringing bread, bringing war.
I wonder if we are not all born in this field of contradiction, alternately receiving and resisting the miracle food that would truly nourish, fill, and sustain. We are inconsistent creatures, sprinting back and forth between grateful collection of grace and fighting the very hand that feeds.
Is this not the very life of faith? The sacred ground where we meet Him made the House of Bread or the House of War by our own choosing, determined by the shape of our hand in approaching, open palms or clenched fists?
Perhaps this is also our heritage— a life divided by bread and war, and faith, the tension wire threaded between.