An incredible story of hope at Christmas


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Back in the ‘60’s our nation was facing political turmoil, an unpopular war, and rampant cultural uncertainty.  But did you know these circumstances were the inspiration for a popular Christmas carol?

The author of the Christmas carol was personally affected by the national turmoil.  His son had been gravely wounded in the war, and his recovery was uncertain.  What’s worse, he’d recently lost his wife in a horrible accident in which her clothes caught on fire from a candle.  And on a Christmas morning, while reflecting on his life and the challenges that lay ahead for him and his country, he heard something that gave him hope.  He heard church bells.  They were ringing in the good news that Jesus was born.  And so he took up his pen and wrote the following lines:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Wild and sweet…the message of peace.  That hope is as vital today as it was then.  He continued to write:

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

He realized the church had been singing the song of hope and peace since its inception…despite the turmoil all around.  Then he went on:

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

The PROMISE of peace was there, but the experience was sorely lacking.  So he wrote the next somber lines that resonate so deeply with us:

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!”

But the song will not be mocked.  God will prevail.  And on that lonely Christmas morning, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow finished his epic poem with the unquenchable truth about God’s ultimate victory and peace:

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!”*

Yes, it was written in the 60’s.  The 1860’s.  And just like today, our broken world desperately needs to hear the message of hope and peace ring out from the stewards of that message: the church.  People like you and like me.

So this Christmas, I urge you to actually BE the bells that others can hear on Christmas day.  Be the bells that sound loud and deep.  Be the evidence that God IS not dead, that he DOES not sleep.  And what God has begun in us, he will one day complete.  He will prevail.  There will be peace on earth.  It starts now.  It starts with us.

-Pastor Mark

P.S. You’re invited to join us for a special Christmas Eve service with candle lights at 3:00, 5:00, or 6:30.

 

 

Posted on December 24, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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