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PEACE ON EARTH

By Barry Cameron
December 06, 2013

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was filled with sorrow at the tragic death of his wife in a fire in 1861. The Civil War broke out the same year, and it felt like an additional punishment. Two years later, Longfellow was once again saddened to hear his son had been seriously wounded as a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac.

Sitting down at his desk one Christmas day, he heard the church bells ringing. It was in that setting he wrote the words to this famous Christmas carol: “I heard the bells on Christmas Day, Their old familiar carols play."

And wild and sweet the words 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.’

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."
A lot of people are having a hard time hearing the bells and singing Christmas carols this year because of what’s going on in their lives and all over the world. Like Longfellow, it’s hard for them to believe there will ever be peace on earth. If he were here today, he might write those lines again:
“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 don’t stop there. Keep listening to the bells.

On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright finally succeeded in keeping their homemade airplane aloft for 59 seconds. They were ecstatic! As part of their excitement, they rushed a telegram to their sister in Dayton, Ohio. Their simple message was, “First sustained flight today of fifty-nine seconds. Hope to be home by Christmas.”

She was so enthralled with their success, she immediately took the telegram to the newspaper and gave it to the editor. The following morning the Wright brothers’ name was splashed across the front page. The headline read, “Popular Local Bicycle Merchants To Be Home For Holidays.”

He missed the whole point. And so do millions of people every December.  They’re completely oblivious to the REASON for the season because they’re not listening to the bells.

As Longfellow continued to listen to those church bells, ringing on Christmas Day, he wrote:
“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."
This Christmas, don’t turn away from the bells, turn to them. Even though you’ve got hurts that won’t seem to heal, problems that won’t go away, and burdens that tend to overwhelm and consume your soul. Don’t turn away from the Christmas carols, the Christmas programs or the Christmas services celebrating the birth of Christ.

Because there’s a magnificent message of hope ringing out to you and every person in the world. It’s “GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY THAT WILL BE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE.” It’s the message that in CHRIST JESUS, the Messiah from Bethlehem’s manger, Conquering King of Calvary’s cross, and Resurrected Redeemer from earth’s empty tomb, we can find PEACE. Everlasting peace. Not only here on earth, but for all eternity.

The bells are ringing. Are you listening?

© 2013. Barry L. Cameron

 

BARRY CAMERON

Senior Pastor

Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Today, more than 8,000 people call Crossroads their church home. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.

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