The Christmas Truce

This year marks the 100th year of the Christmas Truce. World War I was in it’s first year. The overwhelming horrors of the war had not become full blown. This was the war when trench warfare became so important.

In the fall of 1914 both sides tried to out flank each other until trenches stretched from the French Alps to the North Se8386150_f520a. The enemies were separated only by a football field in length. The shot at each other and yelled at each other. In the middle was no man’s land where those who ventured risked their lives. Each side would attempt to overwhelm the other line yet no man’s land was an equalizer.

Occasionally, the sides would allow troops to collect their death. A gruesome task and all the while terrifying wondering if the other side would start shooting again. As Cheshire_Regiment_trench_Somme_1916Christmas approached something very surprising happened.

It is hard to figure out what exactly happened. Stories are told that they called out to each other and encouraged the other side to meet in the middle. “It’s Christmas we won’t shoot if you don’t.” There in no man’s land where hundreds of their comrades had perished these two sides met. They exchanged cigarettes, wine, chocolate and the best of their land.

Christmas_Truce_1914_IWM_HU_35801Their are stories of the two lines singing Christmas chorals. Silent Night and O Come all ye Faithful. One side might sing Silent Night in French, then the German might echo in their language, followed by a few verses in English.

The truce went on for a number of weeks. It didn’t happen everywhere along the lines but it was happening a lot. The common story of Jesus’ birth, their shared faith, their shared worship brought them together. It actually became a problem for the military leadership. The two sides now did not want to fight. So troops had to be pulled out and new troops brought in.

The power of the Advent story was still transforming in the midst of this horrible war. We too need Christ’s birth to heal us. We have so many sides in our country battling each other. We have factions, groups fighting each other. How will we move to a place of racial peace …of ceasing from violence? We need help today.

May Christ himself move each of us to be agents of peace for our nation. May Christ’s peace reign in our hearts.