Holiday meals, family photos, serving at church, Austin home, baking goodies, fun movies, fires in the fireplace, all are a part of the holiday season. It also brings a renewed focus on celebrating our Savior, and making Him known.
Christmas celebrations include all kinds of things for everyone. But there is one thing that transcends them all, in my mind: music. Christmas is the time of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” and “Joy to the World” and “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”. All of these stir memories and emotions in us. And we use music to worship Christ, our reason for celebrating Christmas.
One morning as I was preparing the song for chapel I kept returning to one song that is not too popular, “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day.” The words of that song are as applicable now as they were when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote them more than 150 years ago. He longed for peace, but didn’t see any. The US was in the middle of the Civil War, and peace certainly didn’t describe that time. We see a similar thing in our time too. “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.”
But the first announcement from angels more than 2000 years ago said, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) God sent Jesus to bring peace. Peace with God, through His sacrificial death on the cross, as we believe he laid down his life for us as payment for our sin against God (Romans 5). This great news of forgiveness and pardon is referred to as “the gospel of peace”. (Ephesians 6:15)
But he also offers the peace of God: having believed Him, we bring our cares to him through prayer, we can trust Him to answer and work. (Philippians 4:6-7) “Yet 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, goodwill to men.”
We may not hear bells on Christmas day from church steeples too much anymore, but the offer of peace with God and the peace of God still stands.
May the gospel of peace sink down into our hearts, changing us who name Him as Savior.