Christmas begins with the grace of God. And with God’s grace comes God’s peace. As an illustration of the power of peace in the midst of a world full of strife and turmoil, I quoted the words to Garth Brooks’ song titled Belleau Wood. It can be found on his album titled Sevens. It recounts the now famous impromptu “Christmas Truce” of December 24-25, 1916 in the trenches surrounding “No Man’s Land” of World War One. Here are the lyrics.
Oh, the snowflakes fell in silence,
Over Belleau Wood that night.
For a Christmas truce had been declared,
By both sides of the fight.
As we lay there in our trenches,
The silence broke in two.
By a German soldier singing,
A song that we all knew.
Though I did not know the language,
The song was "Silent Night".
Then I heard my buddy whisper,
"All is calm and all is bright".
Then the fear and doubt surrounded me,
'Cause I'd die if I was wrong.
But I stood up in my trench,
And I began to sing along.
Then across the frozen battlefield,
Another's voice joined in.
Until one by one each man became,
A singer of the hymn.
Then I thought that I was dreaming,
For right there in my sight.
Stood the German soldier,
'Neath the falling flakes of white.
And he raised his hand and smiled at me,
As if he seemed to say:
“Here's hoping we both live,
To see us find a better way.”
Then the devil's clock struck midnight,
And the skies lit up again.
And the battlefield where heaven stood,
Was blown to hell again.
But for just one fleeting moment,
The answer seemed so clear.
Heaven's not beyond the clouds,
It's just beyond the fear.
What this song illustrates is the power of peace in the midst of a world full of turmoil and strife. Whether that turmoil and strife be between nations, between persons, or within a given individual, the point is the same. We all long for peace. Thank God that this is what He provides us through Christmas.
For the Angels themselves declared that first Christmas, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14 KJV). And no wonder; as they knew this child would one day grow up and declare: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27).
And to make certain we understood what He was saying, later on in that same discourse, He repeated His promise when He said: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). Amen!
NOTE: You can read about the spontaneous ceasefires that broke out all along the line of battle on the internet. Wikipedia has a reasonably good article, as do several other web pages. Numerous books, documentaries, and even a movie have all been devoted to this sponaneous and fascinating occurance.