The Christmas Miracle
By Jerry Stewart
It has been said that peace is harder to make than war, and in 1914, when the world sought peace, instead it found itself in the First World War – a war so devastating that it came to be known as “The War to End all Wars”. But what happens when in the middle of a war, the soldiers just quit fighting? Of all the war stories I’ve ever read or hear, this Christmas story is surely the most amazing.
In December of 1914 World War I was still only getting started. But already it had claimed hundreds of thousands of killed, wounded, missing. As Christmas approached, an appeal came from Pope Benedict to cease firing – but the killing continued.
On the front line, hundreds of thousands of soldiers from many countries had taken their positions, dug their trenches, and in between the two armies lay a no man’s land that stretched across almost the entire border between Belgium and France. There would be no Christmas truce; instead, there would be only death and devastation.
As the cold rain fell, soaking the soldiers to the bone, it caused a sort of river in that no man’s land that separated the two armies – and the dead bodies in the middle began to float to either side.
But then, as the night fell that Christmas Eve, it happened – there was silence, pure silence – and the soldiers entrenched on each side began to ponder just what this night was, the Eve of Christmas, the Birth of our Savior, The Prince of Peace.
Then, the silence was broken – not by gunfire, but by the sound of voices, German voices, singing a song familiar in tune – but the words were foreign. All who heard knew the song, “Silent Night”. The words were compelling, so compelling that up and down the battle lines, unbelievably, handmade signs began to pop up, signs made of scraps of board and paper, “Merry Christmas”, “You no fight, we no fight”.
As a group of Belgium soldiers cautiously popped their heads out of their trench to read the signs, what they saw was surely not possible – German soldiers coming out of the safety of their trenches, laying down their weapons, walking toward their enemy, in full view, shouting “comrade”. The Belgium soldiers were shocked and puzzled, but miraculously they too laid down their weapons.
All that Christmas Eve night, as the word spread up and down the battle line, soldiers from both sides put down their weapons, came out of the safety of their trenches, and met together in that deadly no man’s land where bodies from both sides lay dead. If pictures had not been taken, surely no one today would believe that it really happened.
As daylight came on Christmas Day, this amazing Christmas truce became even more amazing – soldiers began to exchange food and trinkets, each side working together to help bury the dead. It was truly a sight you’d think you would never see anywhere this side of Heaven, but it was happening.
For that entire Christmas Day the dream continued. As word came to the higher command of each side that soldiers had laid down their weapons and refused to fight, they ordered the men to fire – but they would not.
And then, just as unexplainably as the truce had all begun – it just ended. Soldiers began to make their way back to their trenches. And to make sure that this did not, somehow, happen again, fresh troops were sent on the front line by the higher commands – after all, this was war.
That World War I went on for four more years. Many who had participated in that Christmas truce were killed in battle and never made it home. Sadly, that war, that “War to End All Wars” did not end all wars – and the world continues to fight even today.
But here’s the question – “Is true peace possible, or is it absurd? And just which is more absurd – peace or war?” Sadly, we all pray for peace, but as long as some fight to make wars, others must fight to stop wars. One soldier that was there that Christmas, 1914, wrote these words:
“O Ye who read this truthful rhyme from Flanders, kneel, and pray,
God speed the time when every day is seen as Christmas Day”.
Do you want peace amidst all the turmoil and difficulties of your life? Look to the Christ child of Christmas – He is the Prince of Peace – He will give you true peace.
Jerry’s Podcast Sites:YouTube – youtube.com/c/JerryStewartUSA