The song “I heard the bells on Christmas day” was originally a poem penned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1863. Longfellow, having suffered much tragedy in his life, wrote the song as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. It was put to music in 1872 and has become a regular among our carols of the season. Though the song is inspirational, and God is acknowledged as one who would ultimately right all the wrongs of the world, it has caused many to misunderstand the Bible verse he was referring to in Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will towards men. Longfellow writes “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.”
Did the Angels, get it wrong? Fortunately, no. The message of Christmas was not declaring peace between men but something far more important: peace between God and men. The Angels celebrated knowing that the birth of Jesus was God’s way of reconciling mankind to himself. Immanuel, “God with us”. Jesus Christ born to die for the sins of all mankind so that sin was no longer an issue between A Holy God and an unholy people. Jesus took the wrath and judgement that we deserved upon himself. God is at peace with us and we can choose to experience that peace. Romans 5:1-2 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
We may never see peace in this world among all men, but God, your creator, is at peace with you. For God so loved the world (you) that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world (you) but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
In 2022, may we all rejoice with the angels at the gift of Jesus Christ the Savior, born for me and you to give us the peace that will bring us through whatever the year should bring.