By Randall Friesen
GATEWAY COVENANT CHURCH
Prince Albert Daily Herald
It was Christmas Eve in 1914, the first year of World War I when the famous truce happened that stopped the war for a day.
You see, British and German forces were facing each other over a muddy strip of pockmarked land. The muddy trenches on either side of the no-man's land kept the freezing men safe from one another. They kept low, listening for enemy activity. No one wanted to die on Christmas Eve. Thankfully, tonight things were quiet.
Then, in the inky blackness of the night, the British soldiers heard an amazing sound. A familiar song began to rise from the opposite trenches. The German soldiers were singing, "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht"
The sound was quiet at first, but grew in strength and courage as their enemies sang from their hearts. Then they ended as gently as they had begun, "Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh" ...sleep in heavenly peace.
When the sound melted into the night, the British soldiers replied with "The First Noel".
Back and forth, the singing continued for nearly an hour. Then someone yelled out an invitation and a lone German with great courage climbed out of his trench. As he began to cross no-mans land with his hands clearly visible, some of his buddies joined him.
When they arrived at their enemies trench, the German soldier said to his British counterpart, "I'm a Saxon, you are Anglo-Saxons. Why do we fight?"
They began to talk together and decided that they would declare peace for one day, beginning in the morning. Christmas morning.
As light returned to the sky that Christmas morning in 1914, the air was silent. No gunfire or mortar-fire erupted, from either side.
They cautiously crawled out of their trenches noticing that the silence had encouraged the birds to return, and they were singing.
The soldiers shared some brandy and chocolates and traded cigarettes and photographs from home. Later on they joined in a game of soccer and wished each other well.
Then someone brought out a squeezebox and a German got out his violin and they played together a bit.
At the end of the day they wished each other well and returned to their trenches, planning to carry on with the war.
Two armies, stopped in their tracks, because of a baby. But not just any baby. They stopped their fighting because a baby with the title Prince of Peace had been born years before.
They stopped fighting for a day. The day Jesus entered the world, the Prince of Peace.
When men and women focus on Jesus, peace can happen.
The more I observe about mankind's version of Christmas peace on earth, and the more I fight for a parking spot at the mall, and am pushed and jostled as I shop in the stores. The more I am convinced that humankinds attempt at creating peace in this world rings hollow and empty.
Yet the more I experience of Christ's love and care, the more I find I enjoy his true lasting peace.
Peace will always escape us until the message of Christmas really sinks into our hearts, that this holy babe born in a stable is the only Mediator between us and God.
Christ has reconciled us to our Creator and made a way for us to be one, so the eternal conflict can stop.
Jesus signed a peace treaty with us in his blood. All we have to do is accept it.
Open your hearts to his peace. For Jesus is the true Spirit of Christmas.
Randall Friesen is a local husband and father who pastors Gateway Covenant Church. He writes regularly at randallfriesen.com