“And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, NASB)

The ancient prophet declared that Jesus Christ was the Prince of Peace. Jesus might have come to bring peace, but it wasn’t in evidence in Bethlehem last year this time. Reuters reported about a brawl in that city’s Church of the Nativity, apparently built over the traditional site of the birth of Jesus.

Nope, it wasn’t between Palestinians and Jews, or Cowboys and Redskins fans. It wasn’t between Democrats and Republicans, or between Mac and PC devotees. Nope, none of these famous rivalries was in evidence in Bethlehem last Christmas. None of these potentially divisive factions caused the aforementioned fracas.

The melee was between two groups of Christians—the Armenians and the Greek Orthodox. In fact, it was between Armenian and Greek Orthodox priests and monks! Leaders of the two sides! Representatives of Christ, battling in Bethlehem! Dozens of clergymen feuded with brooms, employing them as swords and spears, as they traded accusations about one side encroaching on the other’s domains within the church premises.

The Church of the Nativity, you see, is shared by various Christian denominations. And last year’s squabble over sacred space was over who should clean which area of the ancient church, a privilege akin to ownership of that area. Hence the implements of warfare—brooms!

Palestinian security forces had to intervene to break up the skirmish. Thankfully, no one was injured, nothing was damaged.

While we may not be setting upon each other with brooms and other paraphernalia, we Christians must confess that we are far too often plagued by a lack of peace with one another, threatening our testimony to Prince of Peace.

Let us resolve, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to relinquish such fleshly aspirations—to control and to dominate—instead selflessly seeking to spread the peace of our Savior.

May it be yours this Christmas!