Peace on the Battlefield of Life
British soldiers were spending Christmas Eve 1914 on a French battlefield during World War I. After four months of fighting, over a million men had perished in the bloody conflict. The bodies of dead soldiers were scattered between the trenches of the opposing armies.
Life in the trenches was despicable. Perpetual machine gun shelling took a high toll; the weather brought rain, snow and cold. Many of the trenches in which the soldiers lived were flooded and exposed the soldiers to trench foot and frostbite.
It was in the middle of a freezing battlefield in France, on December 24, 1914, that a miracle occurred! British troops watched in amazement as candle-lit trees appeared above the German trenches. The British troops stuck up a sign with the words, “Merry Christmas!” on it and the grandest holiday truce in all of history began.
“From the German parapet, a rich baritone voice had begun to sing a song I remember my German nurse singing to me ... the grave and tender voice rose out of the frozen mist. It was all so strange ... like being in another world,” a young British soldier wrote in his diary.
“Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm. All is bright.”
When the German soldiers finished singing, the British decided to retaliate. Rather than retaliate with the roar of a canon, the army chaps from England sang,
“The first noel, the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay ...”
When the boys from jolly old England finished, “Born is the King of Israel!”, the enemy began clapping and struck up a rousing rendition of “Oh Tannebaum!”
As the British troops began singing, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful!”, it was at that moment that the Germans immediately joined in. They were singing with the enemy.
This was a most extraordinary event taking place in the middle of a blood-drenched battlefield! Two opposing nations were singing the same Christmas Carol in the middle of a fierce war. It is recorded that enemy soldiers greeted each other in the no man’s land that just minutes before had been a killing zone. Soldiers wished one another a Merry Christmas and agreed not to fire their rifles on Christmas Day.
The good will spread down the entire length of the 27-mile length of the British line. It has been told that German soldiers shared baked goods and cider with the British soldiers. A rousing soccer game began between the opposing nations while others just wanted to talk about Christmas at home.
Thousands of soldiers celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace among the bodies of their dead.
A solitary voice began to sing “Silent Night” in French ... he was joined by another voice singing in German ... and finally the words were in English.
Who do you need to make peace with this season? Have you been engaged in a fierce battle that has extracted the very life from your soul? Christmas is a moment in history when peace is abundantly possible because of the Baby Who came to bring peace for all of the ages.
Bible Reading: (click the Scripture reference to open in reader)
Let There Be Joy In Me:
Is there someone that you need to forgive this Christmas season? Make a plan to reach out in love and then follow through. Perhaps you can meet for a cup of coffee, or send this person a Christmas note or a loving e-mail.