Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Heard the Bells

The snow fell heavily on the man as he walked slowly back to his cold, dark house. No one would be there to welcome him in, no fire in the fire place, no food on the table. He wrapped his coat around him tighter, but the cold had already settled into his heart. Tears blurred his vision and he swallowed hard past the tightness in his throat. The past few years had been Hell on earth and the future held nothing but more sorrow, war and death.

He thought about his time with his young son who lay in the infirmary, wounded from a gun shot wound while in battle. He thought about his young wife who lay cold and dead in the church cemetery. And He thought about the emptiness of this Christmas compared to Christmases he'd had in the past. This one was void of any joy, happiness, or song.

The sorrowful fellow made his way to his wife's final resting place, the weight of the world resting firmly on his shoulders. Past the church doors, through the wrought iron gate, down the small hill to a tombstone dusted with snowflakes. Kneeling down he kissed the stone marker. Oh, how he loved her. Oh, how he loves his son. Oh, how he hated this world and the grief that came with it.

The darkness descended upon his mind like a heavy, malevolent mist. He muffled his sob against the wool gloves. Would this pain ever go away? Would this war ever end? Would there ever be hope again?

The snow silenced all the noises surrounding him. All he could hear was the ticking hand on his pocket watch tucked into his breast pocket. His tears dried crusty on his skin and he realized the town was fast asleep.

The church bells rang out announcing Christmas morning had finally come. The bells broke forth into a melody of carols. And as they rang loud and clear the despair only sunk in deeper to the man's heart. How could there be peace when there was so much hate? How could he sing of good will when there was nothing good in this world.

But the bells didn't cease. They continued to sing their songs of praise to God on high. And as they rang the old man listened.

Peace on Earth, Good will to men.

Peace on Earth, Good will to men.

Peace on Earth, Good will to men.

Those words were first spoken to a flock of sheep and scared shepherds. In a dark and weary land there had come One who would bring peace to this earth and true good will to men. A baby was born that would bring peace between God and men.

Though I put him in a fictional setting the man was real and so were his tragedies. He lived from 1807-1882 and went by the name of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He wrote the poem that later became the song "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day" on December 25th, 1864, a few months before the Civil war ended.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

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 the bells are ringing
like a choir singing
In my heart I hear them
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.

But the bells are ringing
Like a choir singing
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang 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

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells are ringing
Like a choir singing
And with our hearts we'll hear them
Peace on Earth, good will to men

I heard this song sung by Casting Crowns last Christmas when I was facing a war I never thought I'd face, a crisis I thought I was some how protected from. The world as I knew it had come crumbling down as I stood helpless and hopeless and feeling very much like a little girl lost.

As I listened to that song a line hit me hard:

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail,the right prevail.
With Peace on earth, good will to men.

So here we are in 2010, still in a war that started in 2001. So many heroes have died this year-heroes of this nation and heroes of the Faith. Husbands and wives have left each other and left their children to fend for themselves. Abuse, suicide, murders and so much more...

And what does this depressing blog have to do with Christmas?


It is because of all these things that God sent His Son to this earth in the form of a small baby boy.

What Longfellow realized after sinking into despair was that God saw the crushing devastation that was on this earth and was not asleep or ignoring the cries of this world. He saw all that was and what would continue to be if He did not intervene and save us.

That is what Christmas is all about. Its not about who gets the best presents or the most presents, white Christmases, Bing Crosby or Holiday Inn :). Those are all fun things to enjoy but we must realize that Christmas is really about the beginning of a Sacrificial Life that would be lived sin free and end in an incredibly painful death on our behalf.

By the end of the poem Longfellow saw Christ's birth for what it was: a bringing of peace on earth between us and God and extension of His good will to us by saving us.

I don't know what sadness haunts you this Christmas, maybe its nothing at all. I know for me this Christmas is easier then last year at this time. It is no longer the blissful Christmas I remember from growing up, free from troubles and all about Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney dancing in White Christmas. I still love those old movies but this season has gone much deeper for me after this year.

This season speaks about God, who didn't forget the Covenant He made with Abraham, and chose the perfect time to send His beloved Son to live on this earth, resist the temptations of this fallen world, to show His love to people who would kill Him if they could get their hands on him and did just that. Easter is about the death and resurrection of Christ, Christmas is the day He became a human to save us.

So, this season I hope and pray your Christmas will be a one filled with the knowledge of what God did to save you and that your heart will know just how much He longs to extend that Peace and Good Will to you.
Blessings to you!

*Check out Casting Crowns singing this song on Youtube. Awesome song. Merry Christmas!