Devotional Thoughts from I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day…
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”Luke 2:8-14 ESV
Bells that sing words? This song depicts the bells of Christmas to be “singing” the song from the angels to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth, “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” This metaphorical song sung by the bells is said to have been proclaiming through every “belfry” or bellower in Christendom. Undoubtedly, the sound of Christmas bells is a beautiful thought. However, there is a problem – a weighty difficulty. Why is this world still full of hate? Where is this peace? Is God dead? Is God asleep? Why is the declaration of peace not yet a reality?
The declaration of “peace on earth” is not yet completely fulfilled. The declaration is able to be understood by us as an available reality through Christ today, and a promise of the future reality when Christ at last rules the earth in all it’s re-created glory. Right now, the whole creation is groaning and in pain, but this suffering is temporary.
Peace is a reality for us in this life. First, we believers do experience peace with God in this life. Second, as a community of believers (church) we are in the process of seeing God’s peace become reality over and against all worldly divisions such as race, economic status, preferences, and political affiliations. Third, in the middle of turbulent lives, we are experiencing the peace of God within our hearts on a daily basis. Fourth, as believers, we are meant to pursue peace in this life even among those who would oppose our God, gospel, and our own peace.
With all that the NT says on the subject of peace, we must admit that all our “peace” in this life is not yet complete. Therefore, we wait and look forward to the future when all things are made new. Living forever in God’s presence will be the fulfillment of the promise “peace on earth, good will toward men.”
Author: Henry W. Longfellow
1 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.
2 I thought how as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along th’unbroken song Of peace on earth, good will to men.
3 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.’
4 Then peeled 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.’
5 Till, ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day A voice, a chime, a chant sublime, Of peace on earth, good will to men.