PASTOR'S PEN: The Christmas carol that brought peace
It was Christmas Eve of 1871 and the French were engaged in a fierce conflict with Germany during the Franco-Prussian War.
A young, unarmed soldier, moved no doubt by thoughts of the true meaning of Christmas, came out of the relative safety of his bunker and began to sing a carol that was popular among the French people. As the brave Frenchmen emerged in sight of the enemy and began to sing aloud the words from the "Cantique de Noel," a strange thing happened.
The war stopped for a while.
Here in English is what the Frenchmen started singing on that fateful Christmas Eve:
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
After the Frenchmen finished singing the carol, a German soldier emerged and started singing a different carol in his own language. The exchange of Christmas songs had an immediate impact on everyone. Fighting among the soldiers stopped for the next 24 hours in honor of Christmas.
It is entirely appropriate that the emergence of the true Spirit of Christmas on that blood-stained battlefield brought a brief respite from hostilities among enemies.
The angel who appeared to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem on the “First Noel” 2,000 years ago brought a message of eternal importance: Unto you this day is born in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This was truly a message of “great joy” delivered on behalf of “all people.”
After delivering the message, Luke tells us a host of angels appeared in the sky, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
The heart of God toward man and the desire of God for man are revealed in the uplifting words of the angels. So is the significance of the birth, life and ministry of Jesus and of His death and resurrection.
What happened on the battlefield in France in 1871 is a reflection of that same peace of God toward man.
The French soldier and the German soldier, in their own way, invited God to visit that awful battlefield that night. And the same God that sent His only begotten Son into the world to heal the sins of wounded humanity, and Who sent His angels to the shepherds in the field to announce peace and good will from the heart of God to fallen mankind, brought a time of peace in the midst of war.
The coming of the Son of God has always been intended for the benefit of mankind. It has always meant peace and good will toward man. The birth of the Savior was and has remained God’s way to reconciling mankind to Himself, of bringing lasting peace between a holy God and a people He has created and loves who are in desperate need of that peace.