Peace on Earth

I first wrote this blog for the website Grace and Such. It was posted on December 7, 2015.  http://graceandsuch.com/index.php/2015/12/07/peace-on-earth/

 

Christmas Bells

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.”

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

 

This month every time I put my mind to thinking about peace, this song came into my head.  This morning I woke to the news that students are protesting at college campuses, Paris had a massive terrorist attack, and El Nino is threatening areas in the world with severe weather.  Peace seems to have gone on vacation.

 

This is not one of my favorite Christmas hymns.  I’ve always thought of it as a bit of a downer to the Christmas spirit.  But it is raw and it is honest.  Longfellow wrote this poem towards the end of the American Civil war, when all were weary and in despair over the horror of that time.  He had just learned of his oldest son’s severe injuries from one of the battles.  For Longfellow, as with us today, there is no peace on earth, because hate is strong and does seem to mock all those who earnestly seek peace on earth.

 

Honestly, I don’t think there can ever be peace in this present world.  I know many will disagree with me.  But there will always be pride, lust, and greed to bring about war, as long as we dwell in these earthly bodies.  Peace is far from the thoughts of those who fear the loss of power, right, and influence.  I do not exclude myself.  My lack of peace is often due to my own fears.

 

Yet, I believe in peace.  Throughout the scriptures peace is offered as a gift by God.  It is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  This peace seems to be an inward sense of rightness, confidence, and safety, despite the outward circumstances.  When I read the lives of the saints and martyrs, there is a common thread of perspective within each of them.  They know a peace that is beyond understanding.  Peace to sing before eaten by lions; peace to see the throne of God before being stoned; peace to be crucified upside down lest he take any honor from Jesus.

 

Peace does not seem elusive to them.  Peace seems tangible, available, present.

 

Mr. Longfellow did not allow us to wallow in the depths of despair.  He ended his poem with hope.  God is not dead.  He is alive and awake despite His seemingly silent presence.  Someday, He promises, there will be a new world.  A world where right and wrong will take their places in fair justice.  In that world:

 

 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

 

Jesus came to bring this kind of peace.  His offer of peace was not without a cost, but it was a gift given in the act of love.  He gives His peace to all who seek it.  All we need to do is ask Him for His peace.

 

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

 

Merry Christmas!

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About birdhead456

I have many titles from wife, mother, and Nana. But I am also a gardener and love to create beautiful spaces. To me the soul is much like a garden. It is a beautiful place where we meet God. Just as a garden needs attention, nutrients, and patience, so does our souls require time to be nurtured in order to bring forth the good fruit of a strong relationship with God. I am a Spiritual Director working with Christian woman who desire such time and attention to help build a deeper connection with God.
This entry was posted in spiritual practices, God's presence, prayer, fear. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Peace on Earth

  1. Marilyn says:

    Amen and Amen! Great piece. Thank you.

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