Did you know that during the First World War, the music of ‘Silent Night’ inspired thousands of soldiers on one battlefield to stop shooting at each other, put down their weapons, and come together to celebrate Christmas? As the day came to an end, the power of this moment – when enemies laughed and embraced each other – made the whole idea of returning to the trenches to restart the war, seem like utter futility. This 200 year old Christmas carol, with its message of peace and reconciliation, threatened to undermine the whole war.
One wonders what might have happened, if the commanders from both sides had not rushed in, after hearing about this ‘serious breach of discipline’, to remedy the situation. Sadly, every officer involved in this un-war-like behavior was replaced by someone more suitable.
Worse still, this war - which brought death and suffering to millions of families – was in many ways a family feud, over lands and power, between the aristocratic and royal families of Europe. Did you know that the German Kaiser was a relative of the British Monarch through his mother?
Family feuds don’t usually lead to World Wars, but we all understand how they can lead to deep hurts and divisions when left unresolved. And when family members make alliances and take sides, rather than become mediators, the possibility of peace and reconciliation becomes even harder to achieve. It is a tragedy when families start tearing themselves apart.
The Christmas message nearly stopped a war, and it continues to bring HOPE and PEACE and RECONCILIATION to all those willing to embrace it. Jesus said, “I have not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it”, and also, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest.” His life, death and resurrection have surely lain to rest any doubts we might have about God’s love towards us, and whether He can keep His promises.
May you and your family know the PEACE and HOPE that Jesus came to bring, this Christmas and throughout the new year.