22 December 2022

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests


Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” — Luke 2:13-14

On Christmas of 1914 something happened that nobody could have ever predicted. British and German troops were bogged down in the muddy cold trenches in Flanders Field which was their only protection from machine gun fire. Between them was “No Man’s Land,” an area the width of a football field, strewn with decaying bodies and barbed wire. The First World War was in a quagmire. Bodies were stacked like cordwood. But as Christmas approached, something in the soldiers warmed. On December 23 the German soldiers withdrew to a monastery ruin where they held Christmas worship. They put up Christmas trees - Tannenbaums - with lights that were so different from the grayness all around. British soldiers on the other side of the line couldn’t help but risk raising their heads to peek at the Tannenbaums - now hundreds of them, and they began to sing Christmas carols familiar to them.

Two British officers, defying orders, ventured out of the trenches to propose a Christmas truce to their enemies, but by now rank and file soldiers had already begun talking to, and meeting up with, groups of their opponents. The British sang everything from Christmas carols to Tipperary, and the Germans responded with a Christmas concert of their own. A German violinist stood atop his parapet and played on his violin. A French soldier, a member of the Paris Opera, sang out O Holy Night. A German officer named Thomas gave a gift to a British officer–a Victoria cross and letter from a fallen British soldier, and Lt. Hulse, from the British side, responded by giving Thomas a silk scarf. Each side buried their dead. They bared their heads and recited the 23rd Psalm. As Christmas day 1914 drew to a close and darkness fell, the soldiers gradually returned to their trenches. For two whole days they had ceased being enemies, and the world was at peace. In the darkness a voice started singing one of the most familiar Christmas carols: Silent Night.

Peace is always a noble aspiration; in times of war or in times of harmony. When you find yourself at odds with someone or when you’re feeling pretty good about your relationships. When you feel in harmony with God or when you feel a discord. It’s always important to pursue peace.


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