“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet,
Their words repeat,
Of peace on earth, good-will towards men.”
Dear friends and family,
This Christmas we are acutely aware of the need for “Peace on Earth.” As Americans, we are no longer insular to the tragedy and violence that many other cultures have lived with for generations. We have become all too aware of violence on our home soil that we previously thought was reserved for cultures far away from our shores, and we shake our heads and are sure that “it’s never been this bad.” But, there are many other points in history where evil has had run rampant on the innocent and left many wondering as we do today, “Where is God?”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned a poem during the crisis of the Civil War, a tragedy of huge proportions on American soil. Many of his words eventually gave birth to the Christmas song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
How are we to keep the faith, to secure hope in these unsettling times? If God is not dead, He certainly seems far away.
But isn’t that the crux of the Christmas story? Knowing how desperately we needed Him, He drew near to us – so near in fact, that He left His throne and was born as a vulnerable baby in an unlikely place. No matter how we try to clean up and glamorize His first coming, the facts remind us that He chose to be born in crisis as the most helpless creature on the planet – a human baby, announced to a couple who weren’t married, born in dirty surroundings, into a Jewish race who had a long history of persecution, and into a largely pagan and powerful Roman Empire. But thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. In fact, the story continues and it is His Story in which we all play a part and He knows the ending. His story of reconciliation, redemption, all things made new because of His great love for all of us.
If you are a Christ-follower, take heart. “In this world you will have many trials. But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Nothing can separate us from His love.
And if you are a seeker, take heart. God is nearer to you than you imagine; Reaching down to humanity and reaching out to you.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
This Christmas, may God grant you peace of heart and strength of soul to love with abandon, serve with abundance and live with extravagant gratitude. Peace on earth – pass it on.
Melanie and Richard