Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by OCF Communications
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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
It takes only a quick scan of a few tweets or news headlines to immediately venture yet again toward, and be tempted to linger in, the dark land of headspace over the contentious struggles we’re facing in our nation and our world. With Christmas songs now filling the airwaves or coming through our earbuds, it’s equally easy to feel an unsettled disconnect well up when pondering what appears as starkly contrasting messages of some of the timeless hymns.
It could be contended that an apropos anthem for both Christmas and the year 2022 is captured by the lyrics of this familiar Yuletide song: “I heard the bells on Christmas day/Their old familiar carols play/And mild and sweet their songs repeat/Of peace on Earth, good will 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, good will to men.’”
“How inexpressibly sad are all holidays,” wrote a poet and educator who was consumed by grief, depression, and hopelessness. He had lost two young wives, the second one killed by a fire that severely injured him as he tried to save her. Distraught over war and its still-uncertain outcome, he lamented the deep divide within the nation from divisive racial and economic issues and occasionally resorted to opioids to cope.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote his simple but powerful Christmas Bells poem—later the basis for his I Heard the Bells song—on Christmas Day after his son was seriously wounded in battle during the Civil War. Vacillating between hope and despair, he concludes his poem with hope: “Then 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/ good will to men!”
Whether in 2022, 1863, or in every single year back to the moment of sin from the Fall in the Garden, we have longed for what is seemingly impossible as a result of sin’s deathly consequences—for redemption and restoration from what’s broken, for peace to dispel the chaos, for release from the unrelenting evil and pain, and to have a hope and a future.
We celebrate Christmas because God in mercy and kindness delivered on His promise to send us a Savior in His Son Jesus Christ, who will bring the fullness of salvation to all who will receive Him. We celebrate because as the redeemed in Jesus, through the struggles, doubts, and fears in life, by keeping our eyes on Him we experience “the tender mercy of our God…to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).
Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. Thank you for your partnership in prayer for the ministry of OCF.
Karen, we just saw the
movie “ I heard the bells “ about Longfellow and the poem/ song you wrote about. Your devotional expresses his story of HOPE well. very inspirational Thanks , Karen !
Karen, your devotion above fit perfectly with my personal preparation for celebrating Christ’s birth during this first week of Advent! Thank you!