Joy to the world the Lord has come, let earth receive her king.
By The Rev. Norman Franklin
Christmas is the one day, the only day that we push the pause button on our hatred, still our differences that finds expression in bitter discourse and vitriol, let down our defenses, lay down our weapons and experience universal love and fellowship.
Story has it that during WWI, the opposing armies, the troops in the trenches facing each other, held a one-day truce, a cease fire. They gathered in the open field between them and celebrated Christmas. They went through the rituals of sharing: a meal made from their rations, cigarettes shared and perhaps a taste of spirits. It was Christmas.
They celebrated the birth of the Christ child who came into the world to bring salvation to His creation. He came to make possible the conditions for peace on the earth, peace among mankind. It seems to me peculiar to laugh, talk and share a meal and the joy of the day, while simultaneously realizing that you are looking into the face of one of God’s creatures that you intend to pour your energy into killing him tomorrow.
At the end of the day, they returned to their respective trenches; the battle resumes at the dawn of a new day. But for the night of Christmas, the guns were silent; silent night, holy night, Christ the Savior is born.
Celebrating the birth of our Lord has that kind of an effect on mankind, the power of love and peace. It starts to stir during November and crescendos Christmas Day. Gifts opened, family diner consumed, families return home; the feelings of love for everyone, peace, and goodwill to all executes a “to the rear march,’’ and takes a back seat to the realities of our day.
Americans have been engaged in social, political, and religious trench warfare; 2022 has been a year that we have experienced some unconventional things, uncommon things, jaw dropping things; things that have distorted our identity. Ideology is our god. Truth wears an ideological hat, relativism defines it.
Honesty and integrity have been reformatted to fit the character of our leaders. They do not reverence God, although they belong to Him. “For the leaders of the world belong to God; he is greatly exalted.” (Psalm 47:9b)
Let every heart prepare Him room. There was no room for Him at the Bethlehem Inn; power, avarice and the me-centric pursuit of life, liberty, equality, and justice have taken up residence in the heart of man; there is no room to receive our King.
Recognizing our deep need for a change of heart is the beginning of a great conversion. Making room in our hearts to receive our Lord positions us for a transformational experience; a change of hearts that makes ready the conditions for peace, unity and love for all of God’s people.