A sharp cry pierces the silent night. I bolt upright in bed, heart pounding. Through the thick fog of sleep, I struggle to make sense of where I am and what woke me. Loud wailing serves as the reminder, and I stumble out of bed towards the sound. Lurching through the dark, I follow the cry.
The peace of sleep has been shattered, and once lost, it is difficult to regain. All is not well.
Peace; this sense that all is whole, right, and as it should be, hovers around us, an elusive vapour, barely tangible. Peace in our homes, our relationships, and in the world as a whole, rests in fragility like the hoarfrost, seemingly ready to disappear with but a breath of discord, envy, or hate.
In this season when bells echo the angel cry, “Peace on Earth, Good-will to men,” the ringing can sound like a clanging mockery. We gorge on Christmas Spirit, looking for superficial fixes for mortal wounds. We are surprised when the blood seeps through, marring our landscape of contrived peace.
We flirt with despair when it seems wrong will prevail. Like prisoners trapped in Plato’s cave, we are bound with our backs to the light, watching shadows dance before us.
Even the voice of the Prince of Peace, cries that He didn’t come to bring peace, but division. (Luke 12:51) He weeps for us, prisoners of the dark; Oh, that we would know what brings us peace! (Luke 19:42)
How does the gentle birth of the Prince of Peace, not bring peace?
Perhaps because this Prince does not come to bring the peace, rather He IS the peace.
At the place where love and faithfulness intersect, where peace and righteousness meet, (Psalm 85:10) He hung to be our peace, to restore our right standing with God. (Romans 5:1, Colossians 1:20)
Do we remain bound in the dark cave; content with shadows. Or, will we follow the path of light that leads us out of the shadow land, to Peace, hanging on a tree. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
Excerpt from the Poem: Christmas Bells
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1863)
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 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.”
If you have the time, listen to one of my favorite songs this Christmas season. It is a beautiful rendition of the poem by Longfellow.