My favorite Christmas carol of all time was written by a broken man. He had experienced the worst of what this world has to offer. The horrors of war, the pain of seeing families torn apart, and a country divided. His journal read “How inexpressibly sad are all holidays” and “Better to leave these days wrapped in silence“. His hope was lost, his heart was cold.
And in the midst of that heartache, he began to write a poem, a poem that would eventually be set to music and shared for generations to come; a poem that reminds us that there is more to this world than we can see and we serve a God “who is not dead, nor does He sleep.” The poem goes like this:
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.
I 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.
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.”
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!
Perhaps this past year, you’ve seen some horrors, you’ve experienced
some heartache, you’ve lost some hope. Perhaps the disappointments outweigh the victories and your sorrow outweighs your joy. Take heart from the truth shared here.
Perhaps you’ve had a good year. You’ve seen God’s hope and joy, you’ve experienced joy and celebration. You have seen the wrong fail and the right prevail. If so, be the voice, a chime, a chant sublime of peace on earth, good will to men.
If you are like me, you’ve seen both this year.
There’s been days of great joy, moments of deep loss; you’ve cried for our world and rejoiced in kindness shown to others.
We are in the midst of a story being played out in the world around us, a story that finds its center in the event we will celebrate at Christmas – the birth of our Savior, of Love Incarnate, the Prince of Peace.
And the story continues in us. But never forget this truth, God is not dead nor does He sleep. He is Immanuel, God with us. As we minister to the church, as we disciple our children, as we share our hope with all who ask for the reason for our joy, we join the story and continue to be the Love of God reaching into the world.
May your Christmas be blessed, rich and full of love.
More than likely, things won’t go according to plan, kids will be kids, and life will be life. But I hope in the middle of whatever happens, your heart will find rest in the Wonder of Christmas and your soul will find peace on earth.
Merry Christmas friends!
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About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.