Anyone who knows me very well knows that I simply love Christmas time. I’m the guy who whistles Christmas tunes, even in the summer heat. I’m the guy who is ready to put up the Christmas decorations as soon as the trick or treaters vacate the front yard. And yes, I will watch the Hallmark Christmas shows even though I can always predict the endings before they begin.
There is just something about the magic of Christmas. The smell of that new Christmas candle and the good foods cooking in the kitchen. The sound of paper crunching as all those special gifts are wrapped. The hustle and bustle of the crowds as you shop for that perfect gift. The ringing of the Salvation Army bell as you walk into each store.
It is a time of year when even those who may not attend church or know Christ personally are listening to music about his birth and the peace he brings. And when Christmas day comes, it is as if the world hits the pause button and ever so briefly focuses on the love we have for our family and friends. And for just a moment, we catch a glimpse of our common humanity instead of focusing on all our differences. It is as if there is peace for a day.
That is the magic of Christmas, and we can see it every year. It has even happened in war time. In July of 1914 the First World War had begun. Everyone expected the war to be over long before Christmas. However, by December the war had turned into gruesome trench warfare where hundreds of soldiers were dying each day.
Then on Christmas Eve 1914, someone called out from one of the trenches, “If you don’t shoot, we won’t shoot.” Then an opposing trench dweller yelled out the same message. The result was that soldiers from both sides came out of their trenches, greeted each other, and began celebrating the holiday as best as they could. Enemies who had just been killing each other were now talking like friends. They were singing and eating together. Their differences had faded into the reality of their alikeness. It was the magic of Christmas. The truce was short-lived, but at least there was peace for a day.
Maybe this is a good lesson for Christmas 2019. What if we had the courage to come out of our trenches? You know, those places we dig to protect and insulate ourselves from the people who are not like us or we don’t like or agree with. What if we took time to renew relationships lost, to seek out those with whom we have had differences or even to look our enemy in the eyes. I imagine we would find that we are not so different after all. Sometimes, hitting the pause button can allow us to even forget what our differences were in the first place.
Regardless of who we are, with all our gifts and faults, we have a common humanity with each other. And the God who chose to come and walk along-side all his children can be the one who brings us together again. You see it’s not really magic, it’s Christ. Peace on Earth begins with our willingness of come out of the trenches of life and walk with the incarnate Christ as one of his children. Maybe then, there can be peace for more than just a day.