Tomorrow night is Christmas Eve. I am looking forward to the candlelight service at church. It is one of my most favorite services of the year. I love it when everyone in the congregation is holding their lit candle and the rest of the lights are turned off – it is so peaceful.
And yet, this year I am feeling a bit sad and can’t quite get completely into the Christmas spirit. My husband gave me a new Christmas CD by Casting Crowns as an early present so I could listen to it in my car, which I have been doing. The first song is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which is a great old Christmas song. It’s lyrics of Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men should make me feel glad and joyful at this time of year. But for some reason the lyrics that keep standing out to me are these:
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
I know that is not the end of the song, or the end of the story. It is true that there is much hate in the world these days, and it rears its ugly head in the most unexpected places. I do also feel the joy of the Christ child, of Immanuel, at this time of year. But still I feel sad because there are so many who do not know that joy. There are many who know only hatred, and I grieve for them.
As a result, I have had a hard time blogging because I feel like I should be blogging something upbeat and positive, about how great Christmas is. But the upbeat and positive has eluded me for the most part.
The next verse of “I Heard the Bells” says:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
This Christmas I pray, and I have hope, that there will be peace on earth and peace in your life and in mine. I will not cease to grieve because of the hatred in the world, but in the midst of that grief I will remember the joy that comes from God’s love for us.
Christmas is a wonderful holiday, inspite of how commercial it seems to have become. At its core, though, it is still about the baby Jesus coming to us. It is about Immanuel.