By Chaplain (Col.) David Bowlus
The cold December days of 1914 were dark times.
Five months had passed since Europe had rushed head-first into war and already the frightful toll of casualties had reached a staggering 800,000 dead and wounded.
The holidays only promised to trigger more bloodshed and killing. But something unthinkable happened that Christmas Eve in 1914.
In a gesture of faith and hope, British soldiers raised “Merry Christmas” signs above their trenches, wishing “good will” to the enemy.
Surprisingly, the Germans responded with an outburst of Christmas carols. The French and British echoed back with carols of their own.
Despite the protests and direct orders of their officers, German and British soldiers soon left their trenches, greeted each other with Christmas songs, and even exchanged gifts.
At some spots along the Western Front, soldiers from opposing sides played games of soccer together.
That day on the hellish space called “No Man’s Land” in war-torn France, the “peace on earth, goodwill to men” reigned supreme. Even the next day, this spontaneous truce could not be overturned. Neither side seemed willing to fire the first shot.
Only when fresh troops arrived and under the threat of punishment did the war resume.
I am amazed of the tangible impact of Christ’s birth in such desperate conditions. However, this unbelievable event is simply a foreshadowing of the promise that the Prince of Peace will one day return to earth to establish his kingdom. On that glorious day, peace will cover the planet.
The prophets foretell that swords will be beaten into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks, and we will no longer need to learn war.
If God’s peace could radically break out on a harsh World War I battlefield 104 years ago, the peace of Christ can be a reality in our own hearts and overflow to our families and work places.
Scripture tells us that the Prince of Peace knocks at the door of each heart seeking to still the storms that still battle within us.
This holiday season, let peace start within you by allowing God to give you the gift of peace that only he can give.
(Editor’s note: Bowlus is the garrison chaplain).