Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Bells

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”.
Luke 2:10-14

It’s that season again: Christmas trees are being decorated and houses all along the street are being lit up.  All your favourite Christmas carols are being sung in churches and heard on the radio.

You may have a favourite Christmas carol… perhaps Silent Night or Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.  Mine has always been a slightly more obscure one:  I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

The song is taken from a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas day in 1863.  As he listened to the Christmas bells ringing that Christmas day, they remind him of the verse from Luke 2 of “peace on earth, and goodwill toward men.”

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

However, at the time, Longfellow had been struggling in his life.  His wife had recently died tragically in a fire.  His eldest son had, against his wishes, just joined the Union Army to go and fight in the American Civil War.  He had experienced much loss and pain.  In the third verse he questioned where is this so-called “peace on earth and goodwill 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, goodwill to men.”

While working in northern communities, despair is all around.  People are living in pain and hurt and many see no way out.  To them, it may feel like there is no peace on earth or goodwill to men. 

However, Longfellow’s poem does not stop there.  As he continues to listen to the church bells ring, he is reminded that God will prevail and that there will be peace.

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.”

What the angels proclaimed that day, as recorded in Luke, was a promise from God: for a saviour that will bring peace on earth and goodwill toward men.  We find this peace in Christ, as through his death and resurrection, we have been reconciled to God; we are at peace with God (Romans 5:1).  Though there certainly will be trials and troubles in this life, as Longfellow and the people living up north know too well, God is not dead and He isn’t sleeping.  Rather, He is there with us in the midst of the difficult times in life.  Not only that, He has promised us that one day our relationship with Him will be realized in full and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:3-4).

What a privilege to be able to bring this good news of the Gospel to people living in despair and without hope. We want to thank everyone that has supported and prayed for this ministry in the past year.  We could not do this without you and we want to thank you for helping us to walk alongside the people living in these remote communities and joining them in their journey.

From our family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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