Setting The Scene
If you’ve never read an account of the World War I Christmas Truce, I encourage you to do so. It’s worth your time.
In 1914, when the Great War had been raging for less than a year, French, German, and British troops spontaneously ceased fire at Christmas. These men didn’t just stop shooting at each other. No, they crossed lines to speak with one another, play football, sing Christmas carols, and even exchange presents.
An Outbreak of Peace
Can you imagine? Men who were mortal enemies days earlier—who would later, in fact, succeed in killing each other—had an unplanned outbreak of peace. Their spontaneous (albeit temporary) laying down of arms seemed a tacit recognition that the world is not supposed to be at war.
At the incarnation, the angelic choir proclaimed, “Peace on earth to people He favors!” And for a brief time, the soldiers of three Christian nations favored peace over destruction.
The Language of Peace
Imagine, for just a moment, what it would be like to be a trench soldier: in fear for your life, morally conflicted about killing your enemy, and missing your family at Christmas. Then, imagine the sequence of events and trust required to stand up in full view of your opponents and walk across no man’s land to meet the individuals who may have killed your friend days, or even hours, earlier.
Once the party—it does sound like a party—started, how must it have felt? And when the singing began, how long before everyone joined in? Traditional Christmas carols, sung in three different languages by armed men sworn to kill each other, so far from home. These had to have been the best Christmas carols ever.
Peace on earth, indeed.
From Generosity Flows Peace
We are not at war, but our times do not feel peaceful. Everywhere we turn, we find conflict, discord, and unrest. Two millennia ago, Jesus was born to bring peace on earth. In celebration, wise men brought gifts. One hundred years ago, killers briefly embraced pacifism in remembrance of that event, and exchanged gifts with one another as they sang songs together.
Peace fosters generosity, and generosity fosters peace. Wherever Jesus goes, peace and generosity follow. From the manger to the cross to the present day, our Lord and Savior is the Prince of Peace.
May you experience the peace of God in your generosity this Christmas.