A Christmas Truce
- Donna W. Payne & Fran Lenzo
- 2000 12 Dec
This article originally appeared in Crosswalk.com's Live It.
When Christmas came in 1914, in the first year of World War I, the soldiers were in their trenches on the battlefront, weary from the sights and sounds of warfare. For hundreds of miles along the battle line, both sides had dug rows of ditches and underground supply rooms. Each side's trenches faced the other, separated only by barbed wire and a narrow strip of no-man's-land. A trench soldier shared his sleeping bag with rats and bugs and frogs.
Without official approval, sometimes against orders, and almost by accident, the soldiers in the trenches made for themselves a Christmas truce. Up and down the line, at different times and in different places, the guns were silent. A few soldiers called out, or sang, or even stood up and approached the other side. We don't want to kill you. Don't shoot, they would shout. In some places German and British soldiers sang Christmas carols together - each in his own language. In others, they met in the middle of no-man's-land and exchanged chocolate, tins of jam, cigarettes, souvenirs, and addresses. They shook hands and showed photographs of their families. In one place, Irish soldiers lined up with their German enemies to take a photograph together. In another, German and Scottish soldiers laid down their hats for goalposts and played a game of soccer.
In some places the Christmas truce lasted only hours, in others, several days. But everywhere it ended. World War I, the Great War, ended in 1918. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Of course, it was not. Since that time, there have been big and little wars between nations. The world even saw a second "World War." Many countries still have hatreds between people of different races and religions. Anger causes problems between friends. Families have arguments. A war between good and evil is fought in each person's soul. We are at war with each other, with ourselves, and, most of all, with God.
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardon'd (based on Isaiah 40:1-2).
The prophet Isaiah tells us to be comforted. Our sins can be forgiven and our warfare ended. A peace treaty between God and man was accomplished by Jesus when He paid the penalty for the sins of the world on the cross. Be comforted. One day there will be peace on earth. Now and forever, we can have peace for our souls. Jesus came to Bethlehem to provide a Christmas truce that never ends.
Donna W. Payne, a biomedical researcher formerly on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, is a full-time writer. She is the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, a graduate of Wheaton College and the University of North Carolina, and lives in Columbia, Md., with her husband and two children.
Fran Lenzo works in a Christian bookstore and co-owns Real Life Designs. A former leader in Community Bible studies and other ministry groups, she attended Lake Forest College in Illinois, and L'Universita per Straniera, Perugia, Italy. She lives in Columbia, Md., with her husband and three children.
From The Handel's Messiah Family Advent Reader by Donna W. Payne and Fran Lenzo, copyright (c) 1999. Used by permission of Moody Press, Chicago, Ill.