Christmas in the Trenches
My gift to you this Christmas is a powerful commercial that was produced by a British chocolate company on the centennial of the start of WWI. If you’ve seen it before, you’ll want to watch it again. I, for one, never get tired of seeing it.
It really happened, you know, on the first Christmas after the start of what was supposed to be “the war to end all wars.” You’ll find the details in Stanley Weintraub’s book, Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce.
For one brief, shining moment, peace surprised a world that was intoxicated with war. It happened on a miserably cold night when the sound of voices singing “Silent Night” drifted across the mud, barbed wire and decaying bodies in No Man’s Land.
It must have been like the night when ordinary shepherds in their fields were awakened by a heavenly choir singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to all.”
In our relentlessly-warring, conflict-ridden, weapon-saturated, hate-motivated world, the promise of peace and goodwill might seem like a figment of our Christmas imagination that doesn’t make any real difference the rest of the year. But what if…
What if what happened in the trenches really is what God intends for this world and for all of us?
What if that brief, shining moment of peace is a picture of what our lives and our world are meant to be?
What if all of our violence, hatred, jingoistic nationalism, bigotry, and just plain meanness are not supposed to be the norm, but are brutal aberrations of God’s will; the deadly expression of our sinful rebellion against God’s will and way?
What if peace on earth is not only God’s intention but is, in fact, the way God is already at work to save and redeem us?
What if the peace we most deeply desire is found in the baby in Bethlehem?
What if what happened to the soldiers in the trenches and the shepherds in the fields could happen to us?
Now, there would be a Christmas gift worth hoping for!