Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Hope

This Sunday is Christmas day. I have prepared a sermon on Hope. At one point in the presentation I will be sharing the story of the World War I Christmas Eve truce. There are many versions of what happened. I will try to stick with the most basic.

The year was 1914 and the German invasion of France had stalled because of the harsh winter conditions. Both sides had dug deep trenches to prevent advancement. Rains had flooded the trenches. Soldiers were covered in mud and blood. Many were wounded and could not get adequate medical care. At times the cold was unbearable. Many died of hyperthermia.

The distance between the 2 armies was only a few hundred feet at most. While snipers keep the sides from seeing each other, they could here each other's conversations. On Christmas Eve the Germans lit candles and placed them in Christmas trees. They sang Christmas carols like "Silent Night." At some point in the celebration of Jesus' birth both the German and the French/English armies decided to meet in "No Man's Land." They talked, shared food and cigarettes and looked at family photos. For one moment they experienced the hope and peace that everyone desires, but especially at Christmas. In the midst of life's struggles each December holds a brief pause when the majority can take a deep breath and enjoy the best parts of life. The year long journey to this moment is called Hope.

The soldiers experienced this hope for a few days. Then they went back to killing. It is the same for many who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They feel the good will and hope of the holidays, only to fall back to a life full of problems and hopelessness, often within a few days of singing, "Joy to the World." The true message of Christmas is a hope and a peace that only dominates one's life here on planet earth, but also lasts for eternity.

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