peace on earth, good-will to men

A few Christmases ago, I rediscovered the beautiful carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Read it through slowly, and below is a bit of the story that I found truly enriched the words.

"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!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
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!"

The song was originally written simply as a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on December 25th, 1864. On Christmas Day in 1862, Longfellow wrote in his journal of the despair he felt in the grief of his wife's death; the holiday was no longer filled with hope to him. The Christmas of 1863 held no journal entry as Longfellow struggled to accept the crippling injury his eldest son sustain fighting in the Civil War. But on Christmas Day of 1864, Longfellow penned these words. After years of family struggle and devastating war, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow returned to the source of hope even in the midst of trial.

Today, his words ring true. We were indeed created for peace on earth, and we are made to be recipients on God's good-will. In the middle of the mess here on earth from war, hunger, slavery, death, brokenness, and hurt, Christmas reminds us that God is not dead. Christmas was the beginning of the renewal of the earth, starting with a tiny baby. Since that day, the kingdom of God has been spreading, bringing peace on earth once again. The kingdom is still coming, still bringing that peace to the world. But it is coming, and now not just through a newborn baby. Now the kingdom comes through us.

This Christmas, let us remember that Jesus came bringing peace on earth. He came to bring good-will to men. He promised. And now, today, He is fulfilling His promise. Jesus has provided us peace with God through forgiveness of sin. But even more, He wants to see peace on earth even more than we do, and He's doing it through us. We are the continuation of Christmas, and each soul born again is another little Christ, little follower of Immanuel.

May the bells of Christmas, whether silver or jingling or from the church steeple, remind us that our God is the peace-giver. Our God is peace, and He gives us peace by giving us Himself. God giving us Himself: that is what Christmas is all about.


You can listen to and download this song from Sleeping at Last at Any tips given will be donated to Restore International, an incredible ministry founded by Bob Goff. 


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