The Christmas Truce
The Christmas truce describes a series of unofficial cessations of hostilities that occurred along the Western Front during Christmas eve 1914. World War One had been raging for several months but German and Allied soldiers stepped out of their trenches, shook hands and agreed a truce so the dead could be buried.
The soldiers also used that truce to chat with one another, exchange gifts, even play a football match, and some say this was started by the singing of the carol “Silent Night”, initiated by the German side.
Sermon Summary of Rt Rev Geoffrey Pearson
I had a dream last night where I was going up to heaven and I met St Peter, and he told me to get some chalk and go on up the stairs and when I get to the top write all my sins on the board. But as I was going up I met Brian on the way down. I asked “where are you going?” he said “I’m going to get some more chalk’.
In Germany they celebrate Christmas eve as an important event and so it was not surprising that the Germans took the initiative and opportunities to bury their dead, even say masses and exchange gifts, play football and sing songs. This was a brave thing to do in that time, as there was a lot of criticism that getting to know the opponent might make it harder to kill them later on. Adolf Hitler thought it was disastrous to fraternise with the enemy and so it was heavily discouraged.
In hindsight it is easy living in this age looking back to make the right decisions. If you are thirsty in a marathon it is easy to quench your thirst and drink all the water but then you will be thirsty later, it is a lot better to drink little amounts often. Singing silent night might have been a small act that started the truce, if you listen to the words they ring true.
Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
It is the small acts of kindness in todays society that make that difference.
There is so much darkness on TV, in the papers, and in the world that it can be easy to see the darkness outside and forget about the darkness on the inside of us.
I was brought up in Liverpool and we always entertained on Christmas day inviting everyone in, and so when I got married it seemed normal to carry on in the same way. There was an elderly lady that was always hunched over and was suffering and so we invited her and her husband over for dinner. We found out she was married to another person who was rather like the character “Onslow” out of “keeping up appearances”, only worse. He turned up very untidy, with stains on his clothing and not dressed for the occasion. At this stage we had two daughters and one of them, Rachel was very particular and fussy. But she decided to sit on this characters knee. Part of me wanted to grab her as she might get dirty, part of me was baffled why she went to him - this was really God showing me about how Jesus comes to you and me.
On the outside we might not have much evidence of grubby stained clothing, but on the inside I reckon we are stained and not fit enough to embrace the royal baby. There is plenty to put Him off but He chose to be part of our existence.
Behind the coming of the baby Jesus, the reason was to save us from sin.
I have heard many this week deride the carol “Away in a manger” and I don’t know why. There is a verse that says;
Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray
God makes that decision to come to us and make us clean if we allow him.
Back in World War 1 in 1914 it was very easy for the Generals to criticise actions in the field from far away, so let us not criticise things events that are going on far away or from the comfort of home. Let us instead let the Lord Jesus come near and change us and make us new.
Our guests were made up that Christmas when Rachel sat on there knee, and there is that deep joy that we shall find when we let Jesus have a relationship with us.
Let us Pray
Let us pray and thank God for sending Lord Jesus,
Let us pray and thank the Holy Spirit for his work,
Let us pray that this Christmas we let the Christmas Spirit, God’s Spirit do work in our lives and allow Jesus to come near to make us Holy and clean so as to be presentable to the Father.