The Christmas Truce
Christmas is a time for peace. The angels sang of ‘peace on earth’ to the shepherds while the prophet Isaiah called the coming Messiah ‘the prince of peace.’ This reminds me of the Christmas Truce of 1914 during WWI. Beginning on Christmas Eve German and British troops who had been fighting each other sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines. At dawn on Christmas Day some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines calling out ‘Merry Christmas!’ When they realized that it was not a trick, the Allied troops came out from their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. Presents of cigarettes, plum pudding and wine were exchanged. More carols were sung and a game of soccer broke out (100 years later a game was held to commemorate that event in 2014 and was won by the Brits 1-0)! As one British soldier, John Ferguson, would later recall, “Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill.” Apparently similar truces broke out on other battlefields and some of the truces lasted for days. Interestingly, not every soldier was happy about it. A twenty-five year old scolded his fellow soldiers, “Such a thing should not happen in war time. Have you no honor left?” That soldier’s name was Adolf Hitler.
My wish for all of us this season is a Christmas truce. Let us decide to not speak ill of those who have opposed us or who have hurt us in the past. Perhaps we could even reach out to them at Christmas. And more importantly, let us declare a Christmas truce with ourselves. Let us cease putting ourselves down and engaging in negative self talk. Sometimes we have a tendency to talk to ourselves in a way that we’d never let another person talk to us. In the words of Parker Palmer, let us stop ‘conspiring in our own diminishment.’ When we are shooting at ourselves, we sometimes end up wounding others. Even worse, when we indulge in self shaming we are contradicting our Loving Father who created us and called us good, and who considers us the most beautiful gift under the Heavenly Christmas tree. You are a gift. You already bring God joy; may you in turn help bring the world peace.