At Christmastime particularly, we pray for peace on Earth and we do our part to promote peace by showing goodwill not only to our loved ones and our neighbors but also to those in need. We put change in the Salvation Army kettles, drop off new toys at collection centers, pack shoe boxes with gifts for Operation Christmas Child, donate food to our local food banks, and try to spread love and good cheer to those we encounter. We pray that wars will end and the heroic men and women who defend our nation will soon return home and be reunited with their families.
Yet, as we look around us, we do not find a world at peace. Wars rage around the world from Africa to Asia to Latin and South America. Violence is escalating. Our news has been filled in the last few weeks with the tragic stories of the senseless murders of innocent children and holiday shoppers. We wonder what has gone wrong with our world.
The wish for peace on earth is nothing new. For as long as mankind has existed, there has been strife on earth. The first murder is recorded in fourth chapter of Genesis when jealously provoked Cain to kill his brother Abel. In Psalm 120:6 and 7, the psalmist writes, “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” The poet Henry Longfellow addressed these themes in his poem, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” He recognized that God is still in control of this world and that one day He will set all things right.
God did not abandon mankind after creating us. However, He has given us free will and, unfortunately, many people exercise their free will in ways that lead to violence. God has promised that Jesus will return to Earth one day to rule and reign over it in peace. Until that time, however, we will only experience true peace on Earth when we turn our lives over to God and allow Him to give us the ‘peace that passes understanding.’
In these last few days before Christmas, I urge you to remember the true reason for the season, to celebrate the birth of the Son of God, who would die for our sins. Invite Him into your heart and allow Him to give you inner peace and true joy. Merry Christmas and may God bless you.
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day Lyrics by Henry W. Longfellow Music by J. Baptiste Calkin I heard the bells on Christmas day Their old familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, goodwill to men. I thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along the unbroken song Of peace on earth, goodwill to men. And 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, goodwill to men.” Then peeled 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, goodwill to men.” Till ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, a chant sublime, Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!