The year is 1863. The Civil War rages as Christmas morning dawns. American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow struggles to focus on the minister’s sermon. His thoughts are miles away with his son, who has been wounded on the battlefield. The collision of Christmas joy this day and the stinging reality of war’s horrors so close to home leave Longfellow lost for words. Christmas is God’s proclamation of peace. The prophets foretold it, the angels proclaimed it; the very Prince of Peace came to make his home among men. And yet, death and disunity stain the joyful spirit and mock the hope of peace. As long as the terrors of war grip us, how can peace possibly reign … in our world, in our hearts?
Heavenly Father, we are grieved by the darkness that permeates our world because of sin. The harsh realities we face in our homes and in our world often keep us from resting in your peace. Please remind us daily of the peace You brought into the world at Christmas and the peace that remains with us by your Holy Spirit. Your peace is powerful and is present even in the darkest times; we do not need to be afraid.
Monday, December 24th
Christmas Peace Part II
The tension of war and peace that Longfellow lived through in 1863 exists today. The ominous question lingers still: How can peace possibly reign in a world riddled with abuse, hate, violence, and brokenness? As Longfellow struggles to complete his Christmas poem, he hears the ringing of the church bells nearby. Rather than a bothersome noise, the resonating sound brings comfort. In the tolling of the bells, Longfellow hears hope anew.
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.
The Prince of Peace born in Bethlehem is the same Prince of Peace who defeated death! Because Jesus is alive, His peace is active. By the Holy Spirit, Christ fills us with His peace, that we may not walk in fear but in confident anticipation of His return when evil will be wiped out forever.
Heavenly Father, we celebrate the arrival of the Prince of Peace at Christmas. You have empowered us to be ambassadors of your peace on the earth. May our words and actions towards others be characterized by your peace. We look forward to the day when all terror and violence will cease, and your peace will fill the earth.