Instead of allowing the Christmas season to be a source of tension this year, have it be a source of renewal. As Paul said, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (Romans 12:18)

I've heard this story many times in the past, and, to tell you the truth, always thought that it was an urban legend — but then it was reported by the Associated Press on Christmas Day, 1994. It serves as a great example for us to follow.

The story took place on the Western Front during World War I, December 24 and 25. German and British troops were stationed a few hundred yards apart. For weeks they had been engaged in battle. But now it was Christmas and they were ready for some relief.

It started when some German soldiers lit candles on their Christmas trees. It was a crazy thing to do during war-time. The British soldiers could easily spot their position. Instead, the British responded by shooting off rockets and building bonfires. The Germans began singing Christmas carols, and invited the British to join in. One British soldier called out, "We would rather die than sing in German." A German soldier responded, "If we had to listen to you sing in German, it would kill us too." Throughout the night each camp listened to the other sing.

All along the front hundreds, if not thousands, of soldiers left their trenches and met the enemy in no-man's land. There they began shaking hands, laughing and exchanging gifts. Both armies had received lots of comforts from home, like food, candy, and tobacco. They began to share their supply with soldiers on the other side. Some men traded names and addresses. Meanwhile, a soccer game was played between the shell holes and the barbed wire.

The Generals and High Command of each army were shocked. They spoke against the truce. Some wrote in their command diaries that "this sort of thing could sap the troops' will to fight."

Of course, it didn't. The truce lasted only through Christmas Day. In the following years 10 million people would lose their lives in this war. But on this single day two sets of enemies put aside their differences long enough to practice peace.

Let's see if we can follow this example at home, with our family, in our community, at work. Let's see if we can set aside our differences — our complaints, our criticisms, our conflicts — and practice peace and goodwill. Let's see if we can put aside the cares of this world long enough to focus on the glory of God, and let him get the attention he deserves during this Christmas season.

 As much as is possible, let's take a holiday — a vacation — from everything that threatens to take our focus off the significance of Christmas in our spiritual lives and everything that keeps us from expressing the meaning of Christmas to those around us and see if we can put into practice what the angels proclaimed on that first Christmas night: Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, goodwill towards men.


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