A Lesson From World War I: Christmas in July

lovecloudSometime ago, a dear friend and former pastor of mine, Carl Lancaster, added a “musings” addendum to our church’s prayer list.  He’s been emailing the prayer list to our members for many years now, and I enjoy the times he adds his own thoughts after the prayer requests.  Although this muse from him was based on the upcoming Christmas season, what he says is apropos to us today.  I have slightly edited it to make it current, but otherwise it appears as Carl wrote it.

A little over 100 years ago, Christmas of 1914, World War I had been underway for 5 months.  The Germans were fighting the British, the Belgians and the French.  They were fighting in trenches that were not that far apart.  It had rained a lot so there was mud everywhere. It turned bitterly cold where they were fighting in Belgium and France. In all the mud and the cold it was a miserable existence for everybody.

On Christmas Eve the Germans began singing, “Stille Nacht’ (Silent Night).  The allies applauded noisily and yelled, “more!, more!”  They then took turns singing Christmas Carols and the allies moved on to sing the German anthem and the Germans sang the British anthem.  After they had peeped out of their trenches without getting shot at they began meeting each other on the land between the trenches.  They traded food, tobacco, buttons from their uniforms and other souvenirs.  They discussed the best way to deal with the body lice and the rats and showed each other pictures of their families.  In many areas no shots were fired that night, Christmas day or the day after.  When the commanders heard about this they were irate and forbade any further fraternization with threats of court martial if anyone disobeyed.  Yet it was reported that in some areas soldiers continued to shoot over the heads of the opposing army as late as February!  They had come to recognize their common humanity and consequently had no desire to kill each other!

I have lived through World War II, the Cuban Crisis, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, two Iraq Wars and the Afghanistan War.  However, throughout my life at no other time have I ever heard so much hatred expressed against others even including against others within our own country.  At no time, have I ever know of so many people in so many parts of the world being so intent on destroying, in the most brutal way possible, their fellow human beings!
We remember and celebrate the Prince of Peace in our lives, so isn’t it time for us to declare a truce, a cease fire and to promote peace and goodwill rather than enmity and hate?  It seems pretty evident from the Bible that God does not want those who wear the name of his son to promote strife, enmity and hatred!  Rather He wants love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control practiced and promoted!
I challenge you to resolve to do what you can to avoid anything that would promote enmity or hate toward any person or any segment of
humanity. I further challenge you to resolve not to give audience to, encourage or listen to anyone who promotes enmity or hatred toward anyone, whether it is toward a political party, a race, a nationality or a religion. God doesn’t expect us or want us to agree with everybody.  Rather he wants us, not by enmity and hatred, but by our love and goodwill to change them for the better even including our enemies!  Our very nature gives us the same message. There is no inner peace or joy for the person whose heart is filled with hatred!
NOTE: I, myself, take responsibility for all these remarks.  No one asked me to write them.  I am not writing them to point a finger at anyone.  I was moved when I read again the story of that cease-fire at Christmas 1914!  I am concerned with all the hatred that being voiced in our own country.  If Christian people don’t do anything to promote love and goodwill, then who will????
Carl Lancaster is one of the wisest men I know. I’ve always respected him, and, for that reason, over twenty years ago, Bruce and I asked him to officiate our marriage. I’ve never know a man who understands people as well as he does.

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