One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the music. I usually start listening to Christmas music in November, because otherwise I don’t feel like I have had enough time to listen to it! And of course being stateside for Christmas this year means that we have been able to listen to and participate in an extra dose of Christmas music!
It seems that each year there is one certain Christmas carol or song that stands out and goes over and over in my head and heart. This year it is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. The words were written as a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and later set to music. The phrase “peace on earth” is repeated several times and it is that phrase that got me pondering –
I thought about two of the countries where we have been privileged to live and minister. Both had gone through devastating wars to win their independence only to be followed by even more destructive civil wars. Wars much like our own civil war, with brother against brother and people group against people group. Nations were split as each side tried to dominate the other and gain power in order to run and rule their country. Tenuous peace agreements were signed and then broken as the factions once again picked up their arms – each in order to dominate the other.
Years later, the remains of the wars are visible: Burned and rusted out tanks and trucks along the roadside; twisted sections of railway tracks marring the landscape; bombed sections of bridges or many times whole bridges missing; and roads that are more potholes than smooth surface; and shells of buildings with bullet holes or signs of having been burned and/or stripped of anything of value. And we see probably the most gripping remains of war: amputees, many missing more than one limb; burn victims; and the stories the people. Stories of running for their lives, living in refugee camps, loved ones lost, and the struggle to survive.
And always, there is the pursuit of peace. Even in our own daily lives, as we listen to or read about daily news events, it is easy to agree with Wadsworth’s words, “There is no peace on earth”.
And yet… there are promises of peace:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you… —John 14:27
For He Himself is our peace… —Ephesians 2:14
…peace be yours…through Jesus our Lord. —2 Peter 1:2
…the Lord blesses His people with peace. —Psalm 29:11
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. —Isaiah 26:3
…He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6
What a joy it is to meet, walk with, and share with others who have found His peace. May we find hope, comfort, and most of all His peace as we once again celebrate the anniversary of His coming and look forward to His return. May we remember that in spite of wars and other bad news “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep”. May we remember that when our hearts become His dwelling place, there can be Peace… Peace on Earth.