In 1863 American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned a poem after his son Charles left home without his father’s blessing to join the Union Army during the Civil War. Charles was severely wounded during the Battle of New Hope Church in Virginia.
“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!…
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 toward men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth, the cannon thundered in the South, and with the sound the carols drowned of peace on earth, good-will toward men!
It was as if an earthquake rent the hearth-stones of a continent, and made forlorn the households born of peace on earth, good-will toward men!
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 toward men!'”
I just returned from Potsdam, Germany, just outside of Berlin. I was there connecting with our church-planting partner Steffen Weil and the team at the Mittendrin church.
It was my first time being in Germany during the Christmas season. I enjoyed walking through the packed “Christkindlesmarkt” in the heart of Potsdam, taking in the amazing lights, booths stuffed with goods and ornaments, and of course food that was simply, “wunderbare”. Germans know how to celebrate!
But then, five days after my return to Chicago, a truck deliberately plowed into a similar scene in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring dozens in a terrorist attack.
“There is no peace on earth, I said; For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will toward men.”
The Bible does not sugarcoat over the fact that the world in which we live is broken. Just a few pages in, we discover that. But we also discover in those few pages in…God’s plan of redemption through the One promised to come as our Savior.
Longfellow closes his poem with these words;
“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.”
Luke writes, “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'”
Merry Christmas everyone!
(Written by Rick Pierson, Executive Director Compass Global)