Choosing the Peaceful Way…

     In 1863, war ravaged a fractured nation. The Civil War created many tragic tales, such as that of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow whose son was crippled in battle.

     Grief concerning his son was complicated by the earlier death of his beloved wife, Fanny. With civil war raging that first Christmas following Fanny’s death, Longfellow, still in the depths of despair, penned words to what has become one of my favorite Christmas carols.

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

…Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

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!”

     Over 2000 years ago, a band of angels announced the birth of The Prince of Peace. More than 100 years ago Longfellow wrote Christmas Bells.

     Still, we ponder peace.

     At times, a part of me is tempted to ask, ’Okay, so where is this Prince of Peace?’ Thoughts of world peace seem hopeless. Hate remains strong, mocking the angelic song delivered to shepherds one night so long ago.

     Yet, a deeper part of my soul—a place fueled by hope and transcending my human understanding—believes more strongly than ever in the relevancy of The Prince of Peace.

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 Advent season we ponder the arrival of Jesus entering earth as Emmanuel, ‘God with us.’ I want to celebrate the baby, but I also want to look beyond infancy to the remarkable man he became. Jesus was able to show the exact nature of God because, in fact, he was not only fully man but fully God.

     The four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John— document Jesus’ interactions with family, friends, strangers, religious and political leaders. A street sign we saw recently in Vermont reminded me the Prince of Peace modeled for not only his twelve disciples but for us living in the 21st Century how we can choose the “Peaceful Way.”

This second week of Advent, my prayer is that we who believe in the Prince of Peace will choose to travel His ‘Peaceful Way’…

Sue Reeve

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *