Time for a Christmas Truce

Time for a Christmas Truce December 24, 2018

What’s the True Meaning of Christmas?

Seems like, lately, it’s about bickering about said True Meaning.

“Christmas is about Peace on Earth.”

“No, Jesus was poor, so it’s about caring for the poor.”

“No, it takes place at the winter solstice, so it’s about finding hope in the midst of darkness.”

“No, there was no room for Jesus in the inn, so we should see the innkeeper as a bad example and focus on welcoming strangers and seeking justice for refugees.”

“No, these are all secular concerns and Christmas isn’t a secular holiday; it is about the great Christian mystery of the Incarnation.”

Folks, last night, we watched Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) as a family.  It tells the story of the Christmas truce on the Western Front in 1914, in which soldiers in the trenches informally laid down arms, sang carols together, buried the dead together and joined together in celebration, however small.  It’s somewhat exaggerated, both in terms of the extent of the soldiers’ actions (Wikipedia reports that informal soccer games occurred but not each side taking cover in the other’s trenches to avoid artillery bombardments) and the reaction of the generals (all such German troops were not shipped to the Eastern Front, and the peacemaking Scottish chaplain being replaced by a war-thundering bishop is clearly there for narrative purposes) but the kernel of the story is true, and can be read about in such histories as Silent Night by Stanley Weintraub.

And, regardless of the theological importance of the birth of Christ, it is apparent in this portrayal that what Christmas meant to these soldiers was celebration and the opportunity to find joy in their lives, even if in other respects they were quite joyless.  There is a human need to find moments of celebration and joy, even for those for whom the original cause of the celebration has been lost.  We can’t stay in a mode of perpetual crusading, even if we think it’s for a noble cause.

So take a break from your righteous anger.  Take a break from fuming about Trump, or fuming about antifa, or whoever it is that you’re angry about.  Stay off twitter if the Orange Man’s tweets get your blood boiling.  Call a truce, even if it’s just in your mind.

And Merry Christmas.


Image:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christmas_Truce_4.jpg; UnknownUnknown author [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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