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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Peace on Earth

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 thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will 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, good will 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, good will to men.”

Then 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.”


This hymn was writ­ten by Henry Longfellow dur­ing the Amer­i­can civil war, as re­flect­ed by the sense of des­pair in the next to last stan­za.

Although these words were written well over a century ago; I think they hold as true today.

In this joyous holyday season; in which we celebrate the birth of of our incarnate Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: it is easy to say that the heralded words of 'Peace on Earth' have not been fully realized yet. When Henry Longfellow penned the words to this poem about 150 years ago, as we read above; it was during a very tumultuous time of war, during which many looked at all the war and strife, and because of this fact, it was easy to see why one might despair, and think that 'there is no peace on earth', or even that God could not have meant those words that He proclaimed so long ago, by His angelic messengers.

The message that those same angels proclaimed was, 'Peace on earth; good will toward men': that message proclaimed the birth of the Saviour of the world, and thus was meant to convey the message of salvation, not of all men; but of those who would receive that Gift! We who have received that Gift, those who have become 'in', or one with, that Gift; DO have peace on earth, a fact of which I think Mr. Longfellow was reminded of, and which we should remember, in the joyous sounds of this holiday season, being significant of the peace and joy that the Son of God brought to this 'world'. Although we should celebrate the birth of our Savior all the year 'round; it is tradition that at this time of year we have set aside a certain day to celebrate His birth, and to gift one another in remembrance of the Gift that God presented us with, more than 2,000 years ago.

Even in our 'day'; we are tempted, sometimes, to look at all the 'wars and rumors of war', the corruption in our own country, in our schools, and even in our churches, and think that; although we have peace in our hearts, through Christ: 'there is no peace on earth'; but when we have peace in our hearts: we have 'peace on earth', in two senses: because of the peace of Christ, 'which passes all understanding', we can have 'peace' that 'all things work together for good to them that love God', thus bringing 'peace on earth, good will to men'; and when the peace of Christ enters one's heart, it will have an effect on one's actions, thus ( physically ) bringing 'peace on earth', and 'good will toward men'.

May God grant us all to realize that Peace and Rest, as we meditate on these things;
not only in this traditional holyday season, but all the year long!

In the Peace of Christ,
Charles Shank