Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sermon: Luke 2:14 The Christmas Truce

Almost 100 years ago, a most remarkable event took place. In the worst of times, something so unbelievable happened that it’s remembered to this day. It even featured in the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert this year.

Lieutenant David Williamson from Castlecaulfield wrote home to his father about it: ‘There was a sort of truce arranged today (Christmas Day) between some of our fellows and and Germans in front of them... Our men went across and they and the Germans exchanged tobacco and talked and sauntered round between the two lines of trenches. It was the queerest sight in the world to see two lots of men, who a few hours before were intent on killing each other (and will be again tomorrow!) talking together as if they were the greatest friends in the world. They even arranged a football match, and since I started writing this letter a telephone message has come through to say that the Germans had won by three goals to two.’

The Great War had begun in August, with the promise of being home and finished by Christmas. But the war continued, so that troops found themselves in the trenches on Christmas Day. The fighting wasn’t over, but men who were enemies enjoyed peace on Christmas Day as fighting stopped. For at least a little while, the fighting stopped, there was a period of peace. It seems too good to be true, and yet it happened.

As we hear the Christmas story, a truce is announced, and the promise of peace is given. In the skies above Bethlehem, the angels sang to the shepherds, and here’s what they said: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’

The birth of the baby brings glory to God and peace to people on earth. While the Great War was paused for Christmas Day, it’s a deeper peace that the angels are singing about; a deeper peace that the Lord Jesus brings.

In our first reading, we heard of how sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience. The consequences are all around us. Sin has infected and affected each of us, our personality, character, and relationships. The rebellion begun by our first parents is carried on by each of their children. We naturally rebel against God. We choose to sin in our hearts and in our actions. We have enrolled in the army of God’s enemies.

Yet to a world of rebels, the angels sing of peace. Peace among those with whom God is pleased. Peace for all who will receive it. And it comes wrapped up in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

Jesus comes into the world to turn rebels back to God. This is the message of Christmas, good news in a world of bad news. You can know his peace tonight, if you come to him. Lay down your opposition to him, turn around and receive his promise of peace.

We can have that reconciliation tonight, and take that peace with us everywhere we go, even when we deal with annoying relatives over the Christmas holidays. So let’s sing of it now, in the words of our last carol, ‘peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.’

This sermon was preached at the Carol Service in Aghavea Parish Church on Sunday 21st December 2014.

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