A challenging meditation on “I heard the bells on Christmas Day”

A challenging meditation on “I heard the bells on Christmas Day” December 9, 2023

“I heard the Bells on Christmas Day” has always been one of my holiday favorites. I always loved the contemplative, sad second verse, followed by the triumphal third verse. “The wrong shall fail, the right prevail.”

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace of 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.”

I’m not on board with that sentiment this year. I’m not sure when I’ll ever be able to believe it again. Maybe never.

I used to believe that God would see to it that, eventually, good would win out over evil. God would intervene mightily in our world and bring about God’s will. The wrong would fail, the right prevail. And maybe God will do that someday.

by Dominik Dombrowski via Unsplash
by Dominik Dombrowski via Unsplash

But “someday” isn’t good enough anymore. Too many people can’t wait for the sweet by and by. They need good to win out now. So it’s up to us, people of faith – and we’re certainly not going to do anything.

“Someday” is a sentiment for people with privilege and prosperity. We, the lucky ones, already have enough of the good things in life (or nearly enough). Life is good, and then you die, and it gets even better!

So we spend a few minutes each day, or once a week, praying “thy will be done.” We check the box. We have done our duty.

No, we haven’t.

As long as hate is strong, as long as war continues, as long as children are hungry, or dying, or frightened, we have not done our duty. We haven’t even begun. And I doubt that we’re going to start anytime soon.

How do I know?

Because for over two months, I have been begging Christians – Christian friends, loved ones, and readers – to do one thing. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know what it is.

Just support the people of Gaza. 

There are some who are already on board with the Palestinian struggle, and they are doing what they can. They are making an effort.

Others…what can I say? They can’t be bothered. Again, these are Christians.

Gaza has over seventeen thousand dead – 70% of them women and children – and forty-six thousand injured, and they can’t find it in their CHRISTIAN hearts to give a damn. (Anyone who knows me knows I don’t use that kind of  language lightly.)

Is that not enough horror to move your hearts? Is there any number of Palestinian corpses that would make you say, “this needs to stop”? How do you call yourself a Christian in this context?

And so, if this is Christianity – and apparently it is – the wrong is going to prevail. Because we can’t see evil when it’s right in front of our noses.

So here’s a suggestion: go to this website and subscribe to the newsletter. I write for this site, and I know it is trustworthy. Every day since the war started, I spend four to six hours sifting through news about Palestine and Israel – the factual news, not the propaganda – and summing it up so you can get a snapshot of the day’s events in a few minutes.

Get on the mailing list and spend a couple of minutes a day learning about the situation over there.

Not because I asked you to, but because as a person of faith and compassion, you want to be informed about the troubles in the world.

Can you spend one minute advocating for these people who have lost everything? Can you call your Congress members and say “ceasefire for Gaza, justice for Palestinians”? Do it once every day. Be Christlike.

If we can’t all find it in ourselves to make this small effort, the right shall fail, the wrong prevail. The Bad Guys are going to win.

Merry Christmas.


FEATURED IMAGE: by Dominik Dombrowski via Unsplash

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