Friday, December 12, 2014

Advent People: Waiting for Peace

One of many troubles we endure while waiting for Christ to come, is conflict.  Personal, family, corporate, community, national, and international conflicts affect each of our lives to varying degrees.  Conflict is inescapable and is troublesome at any level of relationship, producing anxiety, fear, uncertainty, sorrow, even hatred.  In full flower, it births destruction - of individuals, families, churches - and finds its most grotesque expression  in warfare, which makes us undeniably aware of just how far we are from that Peace on Earth that Christ came to bring!

The following commercial has made the internet rounds already and the emotion of it either draws us in or alienates us, depending on our disposition.  But even if we initially resist its sentimentality, it speaks to a desire deep within each of us to experience a pervasive and permanent peace among humanity.  

The commercial is based on a historical moment in World War I, referred to as The Christmas Truce of 1914: a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires in the week leading up to the holiday.  Soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasons greetings and talk. In some areas, men from both the German and allied armies ventured into "no-man's-land" on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps, while several meetings ended in carol-singing. Men played games of football with one another, providing one of the most enduring images of the truce.  (Wikipedia)   
From The Illustrated London News of January 9, 1915:
"British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear:
A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches"

The profound beauty of this story resides in the unstated premise that it is the Coming of Christ alone that holds the power to unite enemies in triumphant songs of common joy.  While we wait for this full and final resolution, incidents like this one grant us a tiny taste of what that moment might feel like, and we draw courage and hope to sustain us while we wait for that day. 

Come quickly, Lord Jesus, and make all things new!
Additional information and artistic interpretations of The Christmas Truce: 

An educational article: Christmas Truce at the World War I Front     
A NYTimes article: The Truce of Christmas, 1914

The movie (w/ subtitles): Joyeaux Noel 

Fontbonne University's stage version: All is Calm

The newly-released picture book from STL's John Hendrix: Shooting at the Stars

A folk song by John McCutcheon:

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