I Heard the Bells
One of my favourite carols has become "I heard the bells on Christmas Day". Listen to it here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bK8xB1opuQ8) and read the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on which it is based here (http://www.hwlongfellow.org/poems_poem.php?pid=40).
I could never quite get poetry at school...I was never good at understanding the flowery language that poets used....the symbolism, the literary techniques etc. But this one...I think I get.
Read it for yourself.
Longfellow questions the "peace on earth" message of Christmas. He knows that what's Christmas is all about, but as he looks around him...sees the Civil War raging...hears the thundering cannon drowning out the Christmas bells...he questions whether it is actually true...whether the message of God's peace is true. Read the last two verses...
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!"
Do you sense his hope?
The pealing bells ringing out the Christmas message reminded him that despite the evil he saw around him, that the message of Christmas was true...that God was not dead...and that one day, God's justice would prevail. And what was true for Longfellow 150 or so years ago, is just as true for us today. All around us we see signs of unrest, of hatred, of discord....of brokenness.
And maybe, like Longfellow, we question if it's all true. But allow the message of Christmas to ring in your heart once again...allow the song of the angels to resound loudly...
"I bring you good news of great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11).
And hear what the prophet Isaiah said of this baby hundreds of years before, "He will be called Prince of Peace" (9:6)
And hear what John wrote towards the end of the first century...
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us." (1 John 1:1-4)
Do you hear John's claim? This Jesus....he, John, saw, touched, heard him.....this Jesus, really did walk the face of this earth....this Jesus, really was who he said he was.....this Jesus, is true.
The Christmas story is not a myth. It's not fiction. It really did happen.
"The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us".
God stepped down into the brokenness of humanity to bring His Peace.