During World War I, on Christmas Eve in 1914, something strange happened on a battlefield in Flanders. Enemy soldiers were settling into their trenches for the night – the Germans on one side of the battlefield, and the French and British on the other side. A young German solder began singing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” (Silent Night, Holy Night). Others joined in – and soon most of the German army was singing. When they finished, the British and French soldiers responded by singing some Christmas carols of their own.
Eventually, the men from both sides left their trenches and met in the middle.They shook hands, exchanged small gifts, and shared pictures of their families. Even an informal soccer game was played in the “no-man’s land.” The generals, of course, were not pleased. They knew that, once the enemy was given a name and a face, war would be a harder choice.
Following that magical night, the men spent the next few days firing aimlessly into the sky. But, eventually, the men got back to the business of war – and that terrible war continued for three more years.
The prophet Isaiah envisions a day when there will be peace. He talks about the wolf living with the lamb, and the cow and the bear being together. He says that there will be no more harm or destruction . . . for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.
Peace is one of the great themes of Christmas. Peace with God – and peace with one another.
We can choose today to be people of peace . . .