Thursday, December 21, 2006

Peace on Earth

I love this carol, which was written during the Civil War. I’m sure peace on earth seemed as distant then as it does today. Most hymnals and carol books delete the fifth and sixth verses, included here, which speak directly of the war and lead into the seventh verse And in despair I bowed my head, ‘there is no peace on earth I said.’ How marvelous that we are then reminded in the final stanza that God is not dead, He does not sleep! Ultimately, wrong shall fail and right prevail. And ultimately, there will peace.

Until then, what can we do to have peace and provide peace? We find some good answers in Paul’s letters.

Set your mind on the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6

Bring your burdens to God in prayer. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Live in peace with others. Your colleagues, family and friends may not be encouraging you in a life of peace, but Paul reminds us that we are responsible for ourselves. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Romans 12:18

Pursue things that create and enhance peace. Pursue is an active verb. Paul is telling us to continually “go after” peace. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:19 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. II Tim 2:22

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Words by Henry Longfellow

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 thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till 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.

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
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.”

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