Peace on Earth.

I was reminded of the amazing community I do have when our church did the annual Christmas concert this weekend.  I’ve gone once before, usually being away at school, but this time I knew many of the faces up on stage. I’ve heard their stories, I seen their hearts.  I can now truly see the passion behind their performances.  One of the songs impacted me in a big way, and I’d like to share some of the lyrics with you: (click HERE to hear the song.)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
by Henry W. Longfellow

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.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is song and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

The 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 song was presented in the concert as one of the characters posed the statement: “I’m starting to wonder if there really is peace on earth after all…”  The question is only resolved through this song, but not in the heart of the character. I think this makes her a character that most people can relate to. It’s the Christmas season and all around us are greeting of “Merry Christmas” and “Peace on Earth!”  Christ came to offer us this peace.  It’s not simply a wish, it is a reality – but not in the sense that most people say it, I think.  Once we cast our cares on Him, we’re told that the “peace that passes understanding” will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Now,  I don’t experience this all of the time.  This concert made me wonder, what does it look like to live always in this peace?  Is this possible on this side of Heaven?

Henry Longfellow wrestled with the death of his wife for FIVE years before penning his hymn.  A year or two after her death, he writes this in his journal: “I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence.”  The next year he writes that he feels worlds away from everyone joyfully celebrating Christmas. The next year or two are, indeed, wrapped in silence. The fifth year his journal is filled with the words of this poem, Christmas Bells. The joy he finally experiences didn’t happen overnight.  Perhaps, eventually, there is a felt peace on earth…


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