Dec 26, 1914
“Dear Mother, I am writing from the trenches… In my mouth is a pipe. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes, a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn’t it?”*
This was one of the many letters that recorded an unusual sight of Christmas amidst the brutalities of World War I. At those times of hatred and chaos, this was nothing short of a miracle! Times have changed. Christmas today has become a lot about fun and festivities, cakes and cookies, love and laughter. But surely rival armies could not have come out of their trenches just for a piece of pie! There was certainly something more significant about the day that brought them together. This is the story of that something that took place two millennia ago. It was their story and ours too. It is a story of peace and hope that conquered rivalries and despair.
If you were asked to describe a perfect world, what would it be like? Maybe a world where there is no evil and pain but the fullness of peace and happiness? Well, that is how God created and meant the world to be. But humans made a choice to keep God out of the picture and far away from his life. As a result, we became enemies of God, blinded by sin, living to satisfy our selfish desires and appeals. It brought to our world pain, suffering, hatred, and loss. It did not spare the rich or poor, the young or old, the wise or meek. Even today, many of us wonder why despite our best efforts, inner peace and contentment always seem beyond our reach. It is because separation from God leaves a void in us, which nothing in this world can fill. God could have wiped us away in a moment. But his love for us was greater than our sin towards him.
On the first Christmas, God stepped down from His holy habitation into the world we live in. He became like one of us so that He could reach out his hand to a dying humanity fallen in the trenches of sin. Throughout his journey on Earth, he dwelt, walked and cried with us, healed the sick, comforted the broken and raised the dead. He came so that we would know love. He died to take our punishment on the Cross – to restore the joy and peace that our sin had snatched away from us. The greatest gift of Christmas is not wrapped in glossy paper or shining ribbons. The greatest gift of Christmas was wrapped in swaddling clothes. That was Jesus.
Dear friends, the Good News is that this banner of love still soars over us today. No matter how lost, how dark, how foul, how far, how dirty the trenches have caused you to become, God is still reaching out his hand to you. Unlike the Christmas exchanges of the wars which lasted for a short time, Jesus offers us eternal peace, eternal hope, and eternal life, through a never-ending relationship with him. Christmas is for everyone. But will you let Jesus make this Christmas truly yours? Remember, you were never meant to end up in the trenches; you were made to live in the light. You just need to invite Jesus into your heart and life, and he will step in.
If you have made a decision or would like to know more, let us know.
We wish you a truly blessed Christmas in your heart!
*Henry Williamson and the Christmas Truce