“Glory to God in the highest; and on earth, peace, good will towards men.”(Luke 2:14)
It is now the time of Advent, which is preparation for Christmas. Many places are already playing Christmas music, Black Friday has passed, Christmas movies have started, pretty soon the Salvation Army will be out with the bells and buckets, collecting donations
This is my favorite time of year. It seems kindness goes up; people become more generous. I started this post with my favorite message for the season: “peace on earth, good will towards men”, a message particularly needed after this past year.
I would like to focus on verses three and four:
“Then 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 towards men.
“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 towards men.’ ”
Indeed, many have noticed that hate is strong, and it seemed to have strengthened this year. With the events of the past few months it seems there is a lot of despair, shock, anger, fear, and disappointment going around. I want to ring the bells to proclaim verse four. However, I also don’t want to sound trite, for a lot of people are hurting.
However, there are a few other things I can share, like the German poem “O du fröhliche”:
“O du fröhliche, O du selige,/ Gnadenbringende Weihnachtszeit!/ Welt ging verloren, Christ ist geboren:/ Freue, freue dich, O Christenheit!”
“O thou merry, O thou blessed,/ Mercy-bringing Christmastime!/ World gone lost, Christ is born:/ Rejoice, rejoice, O Christendom!”
I see the lostness and brokenness of the world: as the other song mentioned, hate is strong; I’m sure all of you can list rhings wrong with the world. Concerning “Christ is born”, I’m going to link to this sermon from 2007 by a Quaker in Iran as part of an exchange organized by the Mennonite Central Committee. Even as the Wolfes were in Iran as a way of building bridges between USA and Iran, so Jesus came to earth to reconcile humanity to God and redeem our brokenness. It is written, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”(John 1:14). In most of Christian teaching, Jesus is God’s becoming human. Not only did He become human, but, instead of choosing Caesar’s family, He choose a marginalized people, victimized by imperialism, and a poor family; something that restores their humanity and dignity. This brings me to another song: https://youtu.be/WTYe9sWYKdo
Another song reflecting my thoughts for Advent/Christmas is the French carol “Minuit Chrétiens”: https://youtu.be/XkTsI2rHJPY
I’d like to focus on the second half of verse two and the first half of verse three:
“Puissants du jour, fiers de votre grandeur,/ À votre orgueil, c’est de là que Dieu prêche./ Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur,/ Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.”
“Powers of the day, proud of your greatness:/ It’s to your pride that God preaches./ Bow your heads before the Redeemer!/ Bow your heads before the Redeemer!”
“Le Rédempteur a brisé toute entrave;/ La terre est livre, et le ciel est ouvert./ Il voit un frère où n’était qu’un esclave,/ L’amour unit ceux qu’enchaînait le fer.”
“The Redeemer has broken every bond:/ The earth is free, and the sky is open./ He sees a brother where there was only a slave,/ Love unites those that iron chained.”
I used the literal translation of the French. The English versions are far less provocative in the less-often sung second verse. But I think it’s an important message in a world in which powerful people think they are entitled to misuse others.
I agree with the song “It could happen again”, about the 1914 Christmas truce. Such an event gives me hope that we can transcend all the hatred that’s going around. Here’s the song: https://youtu.be/fCQpNPGq_mU
I believe peace is possible. However, we must all do our part, like this song: https://youtu.be/0_DxNpW1kHQ
I urge all who read this, “Let peace begin with you.”