Tag Archives: peace

The Gift of Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Time off from school or work. Time with family and friends. Inspiring music fills the air and soul with joy. Dramatic plays direct our minds to real meaning of this holiday.

The history of Christmas go back beyond the man named Saint Nicolas, who went around giving gifts to make people merry. He is as real today as in medieval times. A number of years ago he was seen driving a red and white Cadillac and visiting hospitals and orphanages throughout the United States. Yes, his white hair, beard and mustache are not fake, neither is his fat belly or name: Saint Nicholas. Santa Clause must be a modern make-over for commercial reasons. How St. Nick got the name Kris Kringle is anyone’s guess. What we do know is history leads us back to ancient times when Christmas actual began.

It was around 4 BC, when angels appeared to a group of shepherds, most likely on their way to the annual Jewish Festival of Booths, announcing the birth of the long awaited messiah. During this festival, people of Israel celebrated their freedom that began with the Exodus experienced by their ancestors. Around the same time, Parthia’s ambassadors, also called Magi, came to Jerusalem accompanied by a military escort, looking for the newly born Messiah-king of Israel. Along with indigenous Jews, they too came to celebrate the prospect of liberty from Rome’s imperial influence. The disturbing problem for King Herod and Caesar by the magi’s visit was the fact that Parthia was an independent kingdom with whom Rome has a military truce based on formal treaties. What could they do about representatives of a foreign power creating expectations of a new messianic era of independence?

The expectations and hope spread by the magi, shepherds, and even priests were not to be fulfilled. The boy conceived during the Festival of Lights–a celebration of freedom and salvation–and born during the festival of the an even more ancient experience of God’s salvation and independence from dehumanizing bondage—was destined to save the world from an even more ancient evil: bondage to sin. It is this power over human thought and behavior that Jesus was sent by God to destroy, and not the empire of Rome. This would come in God’s predetermined time.

The power of sin is the prevailing source of all the human atrocities, wars, moral crimes, envy, jealousy, pride and greed that motivate violence and murder, resulting in poverty, social disintegration, distrust, alienation, divorce, and the like. In infant innocence, Jesus came via the manager to deliver humanity from the power and consequences of sin.

The real difference between Exodus and “the Cross” is this: Exodus liberated socially, politically and economically; it changed social status, resulted in a new political amenability, created greater potential for economic independence, and was intended to produce a new social morality reflecting God’s nature. Jesus’s birth, death and resurrection accomplishes the same but by changing human nature, which is accomplished by the overmastering power of God’s spirit. This is the Spirit who created the first sinless human, and recreated a second sinless human to redeem the progeny of the first, which includes us. If this babe who came via Bethlehem’s manger is taken seriously as God’s light and covenant, then God is free to accomplish his redemptive goal in and through our lives, society and world. For the life of baby Jesus is a model of the God who delivers from every form of bondage and the power behind it. Amenable to his word and rule, liberty and prosperity of soul and society produce peace, joy and good will. As God leads the way through adversity and opposition, Christ empowers loyal believers to a good and eternal life in God’s kingdom.

Why not accept God’s Christmas gift.

A Critical Analysis of Netanyahu’s September 23, 2011 Speech to the United Nations

Prof. Paul Eidelberg, President
Israel-America Renaissance Institute

Part III. Netanyahu’s Self-Entrapment

Netanyahu’s September 23, 2011 speech to the UN revealed a prime minister trapped in the Oslo or Israel-PLO Agreement of September 13, 1993. Step by step that agreement led him to endorse the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria on June 14, 2009 Bar-Ilan University, and without any expression of outrage from that religious institution or by the public at large. How did Netanyahu trap himself in this ignominious as well as anti-Jewish cul-de-sac?

In March 1993, Israel’s government was headed by Labor Party chairman Yizhak Rabin. In that month, the Central committee of the Likud party convened and appointed Benjamin Netanyahu as its leader. An eminent Likud member proposed a resolution to the effect that a future Likud Government would not be bound by any Labor-government agreement that compromised the security of Israel. This resolution was intended to short circuit Labor’s desire to recognize the PLO, the first step toward establishing a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu rejected the resolution on the grounds that a democracy must honor its agreements. This was an utterly fallacious opinion since no government is bound to an agreement that may eventually lead to its destruction. Nevertheless, the present writer was asked by a prominent Likud figure whether the United States had ever violated a treaty with a foreign power. I consulted my constitutional law books and unsurprisingly found that the U.S. government had in fact reneged on a nineteenth-century agreement with China, and that the government’s decision had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thus, on May 6, 1882, an Act of Congress was approved which declared that after ninety days from the passage of the Act, and for a period of ten years from its date, the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States is suspended, and that it shall be unlawful for any such laborer to come to, or, having come, to remain within the United States.” The Court ruled, with regard to the treaties of the country, that “circumstances may arise which would not only justify the Government in disregarding their stipulation, but also demand, in the interests of the country, that it should do so; [of which] there can be no question. Unexpected events may call for a change in the policy of the country.”[1]

At first blush it appears that Netanyahu succumbed to his ignorance of the law governing treaties. However, common sense alone dictates that if one party to an agreement repeatedly violates that agreement—as the PLO did on an almost daily basis—the other party has every right to abrogate the agreement at its own discretion. Of course, to have abrogated Oslo would have required politically courageous prime minister on the one hand, and a very different policy toward the Palestinians on the other.

Whatever the case, Mr. Netanyahu entrapped himself in the Oslo Agreement six months before that agreement was consummated. It should also be emphasized that the legality of the agreement was challenged by eminent Israeli citizens in a 78-page petition drafted by Attorney Howard Grief and submitted to the High Court of Justice (file HC 33414/96). The Court, notoriously left-wing, dismissed the suit as non-justiciable without discussing the merits, even though the petition accused the government of having violated several laws of the Knesset included sections 97, 99 and 100 of the Penal Law, which designates and prohibits four kinds of acts as treason:

1. the category of acts which “impair the sovereignty” of the State of Israel—section 97(a);

2. the category of acts which “impair the integrity” of the State of Israel—section 97(b);

3. the category of acts under section 99 which give assistance to an “enemy” in war against Israel, which the Law specifically states includes a terrorist organization;

4. the category of acts in section 100 which evince an intention or resolve to commit one of the acts prohibited by sections 97 and 99.

The punishment prescribed in the Penal Law for the first three kinds of acts of treason is death or imprisonment for life. Yielding Jewish land to the PLO does appear to be a prima facie violation of the treason law. This said, let us make a thought-experiment.

If a Prime Minister of Israel signs an agreement with his country’s enemy, an agreement that requires him to obscure the murderous creed and history of the enemy and even lie about the enemy’s bellicose intentions, a train of untoward consequences will follow affecting that Prime Minister’s successors. Suppose he is followed by six prime ministers. If the sixth prime minister were to reveal the truth about the enemy in question, he would be impugning the integrity of each and every one of his predecessors. And if a prima facie case could be made that that agreement constitutes a violation of the law governing treason, then, if that sixth prime minister revealed the truth about his country’s enemy—with whom that first prime minister entered into said agreement—he would be impugning all his predecessors, casting upon them the taint of treason. This is a mendacity trap from which no prime minister can readily escape.

A Critical Analysis of Netanyahu’s September 23, 2011Speech to the United Nations

Prof. Paul Eidelberg, President
Israel-America Renaissance Institute

Part I. Netanyahu’s Self-Incrimination

Near the outset of his speech, PM Netanyahu emphasized that, for the sake of peace, “Israel did more than just make sweeping offers [to her adversaries]. We actually left territory. We withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. That didn’t calm the Islamic storm, the militant Islamic storm that threatens us. It only brought the storm closer and made it stronger.”

This factual statement of Netanyahu unwittingly reveals that Israel’s political leaders are ignorant concerning the implacable nature of Islam and are therefore incapable of making strategic decisions conducive to the security of their country.

Netanyahu goes on to say: “Hezbollah and Hamas fired thousands of rockets against our cities from the very territories we vacated.” To this I ask, “What morally responsible and self-respecting government would allow Israel’s enemies to fire so many rockets against Israel’s cities without retaliating after only a few rockets were fired?”

Oblivious of his incriminating Israel’s government, Mr. Netanyahu went on to say that leaving Gaza did not stop Muslims from attacking Israel. Now ponder his further admissions regarding Gaza:

We didn’t freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory [of land for peace] says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements. And I don’t think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of — out of their schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even — we even moved loved ones from their graves.

What a monumental display of self-incrimination! This forced expulsion of Jews from their homes was an unspeakable crime. Perhaps Mr. Netanyahu is too callous or self-righteous to see this uprooting of innocent men, women, and children from their homes and bulldozing their synagogues as a crime. His own father Benzion Netanyahu denounced the projected expulsion as a crime! I would only add it was a desecration of God’s Name.

Nor is this all. Listening to PM Netanyahu’s speech to the UN, the intelligent observer will ask: “Didn’t it occur to you that expelling the Jews from Gaza had grave military consequences, namely, that all of Gaza would become a launching pad for rocket attacks against your country?” Were you deaf to the warnings of your military and intelligence experts?”

Indeed, Israel’s highest defense and intelligence officials, Moshe Ya’alon (IDF Chief of Staff), Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash (head of IDF Intelligence), and Avi Dichter (Director of the Shin Bet—General Security Service), all warned against the Gaza withdrawal.

On January 5, 2005, in testimony before the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, Dichter described the threats inherent in pulling the IDF from the Gaza Strip: “In a situation where Israel is not in control of the Philadelphi corridor [which separates Gaza from the Sinai Peninsula], terrorists arriving from Lebanon are liable to infiltrate through it into the Gaza Strip and there is the distinct possibility that in a short while the Gaza Strip will turn into south Lebanon.” Dichter also cautioned that the current “trickle” of arms smuggling through the corridor is liable to turn into a “river.”

On September 28, 2005, Farkash warned that Al-Qaida members are in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip after infiltrating while the border with Egypt was opened two weeks ago.

Ya’alon warned, in interview published in Ha’aretz on June 3, 2005, that disengagement will lead to a renewal of the terrorist war in the West Bank.

On July 23, 2005, Maj. Gen, Yaacov Amidror (who served as commander of Israel’s School of National Security until 2002) warned: “There is no military advantage to leaving Gaza. You lose control on the ground, the ability to conduct intelligence operations and to stage ground efforts into Gaza City and Khan Yunis. You let Hamas and Islamic Jihad have a safe haven to launch terrorist actions from and in which to grow their terror apparatus.”

Despite all this, Netanyahu had the audacity to remind the UN how the entire world applauded Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza as “an act of great statesmanship … bold act of peace.” “But ladies and gentlemen,” he added, “we didn’t get peace. We got war. We got Iran, which through its proxy Hamas promptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority collapsed in a day—in one day.”

That’s right, Mr. Netanyahu, but I ask you: On what empirical grounds, on what historical grounds, on what logical grounds, on what psychological grounds, on what theological grounds, had you any reason to expect peace after this display of defeatism and this unconscionable crime against the Jews of Gaza?

(To be continued)

President Obama to the U.N. General Assembly: Peace & Middle East

President Obama’s speech was presented before the U.N General Assembly on Wednesday September 21, 2011.

Sermon on the Mount : Property Rights

By Daniel Downs

As mentioned in the first post, the gospels of Matthew and Luke contain two versions of a sermon proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth most likely from Mount Gerizim. This is where Moses told half of the tribal elders of Israel to reiterate the blessings for the keeping the law as the Israelites passed from the wilderness into the promised land (Deuteronomy 27:11-12; 28:1-14).

In the Sermon, Jesus pronounces blessings to the poor who faithfully follow God’s way. Those who do so become rich in two ways: First, their relationship with God makes them full of His presence and power enabling them to live according to the divine law. Jesus’ apostle Paul called it being filled with the Spirit. (Read his letter to the Ephesians) Second, they gain legal rights to the material and spiritual benefits of citizenship in the Kingdom of God. This means they have access to resources of the Creator. (See first post titled “Sermon on the Mount: Any Relevance Today?)

Jesus proceeds by pronouncing that those who mourn and weep will laugh again. In the world, problems arise whether because of mistakes, wrongdoing, injustices, natural disasters, or other forms of loss. Like Job, God comforts and restores. (See the second post titled Sermon on the Mount: From Weeping to Laughing)

The next blessing pronounced by Jesus is only recorded in the gospel of Matthew. It goes like this:

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5: 5).

I can think of only two reasons why Luke didn’t include it in his gospel. One possible reason is it was never part of Jesus’ sermon. The author of Matthew’s gospel included it because he was a Jew who had been trained to regard humility as a godly trait. Even though this blessing may not have been part of Jesus’ sermon, it was expected of those faithful to the law of God. Another possible reason is this: Being a citizen of the Roman Empire, Luke was trained to regard meekness as weakness. Romans regarded themselves as members of a superior race and culture than most others, for example, citizens of the always subjugated people of Palestine. This is the more likely reason.

The uniqueness of this part of Jesus Sermon is not just its singular mention in Matthew’s gospel; it is more exceptional because it was a quote taken from Psalms 37, which was itself the summation of a law of God:

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret because of him who prosper in his way or because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it only leads to doing evil. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. Yet a little while and the wicked will be no more; you will look carefully for his place and he will not be. But the meek will inherit the earth and will delight themselves in abundance” (7-11).

The above verses point the familiar reader back to Exodus when the Jews were delivered from the injustices of slavery in Egypt. The Jews were not forced into slavery just as a punishment for any wrong done while in Egypt. Rather, it was because they were foreigners whose population greatly increased. There large population made a paranoid dictator fearful about their allegiance. That is, Pharaoh feared they might join Egypt’s enemies to attacking and conquering Pharaoh and his empire. The easiest way to eliminate such a potential threat was to control all aspects of their lives, which meant to enslave them. (Exodus 1:8-11)   In this context, waiting on the Lord meant to continue being faithful to God and covenant law while waiting for God to execute justice. However, God told Abraham the Jews would be enslaved for 400 years in Egypt for two reasons: (1) their sins would lead them into it, and (2) the divine justice concerning the unrelenting sins of the Canaanites would take 400 years for completion. After which time, God promised the freedom of Jews and their right to possess the land previously promised to Abraham and to his descendents. (Genesis 15:13-16; Joshua 24:14; Deuteronomy 9:5-6; 12:29-31; 18:9-12)

The moral of the story is waiting in the right way leads to inheriting the promised land.

Inheriting and possessing land over which God reigns also will result in peace, freedom, and prosperity (Deuteronomy 7:12-14; 12:10; 25:19; 28:1-14). Because this promise included all faithful citizens of God’s reign, the collective or societal benefit of protection from enemies was implied. Yet, the individual aspect of the implied benefit was personal space within the land. Inclusive within this landed space was peace, a benefit of unhindered movement resulting from societal protection and prosperity; a related benefit was freedom of movement and work resulting from protection. Because God’s law required the promised land to be apportioned to each family according to need, title to that land was part of the inherited possession (Numbers 33:51-54). Prosperity didn’t equate to being as wealthy as Pharaohs, Caesars, Herods, or other tyrants. Prosperity meant having enough to meet the need of family and self as well as an abundance for tithes, offerings, showing hospitality to strangers, and helping others as need arose.

Jesus’ apostle Paul refers to the same when writing to the believers in Corinth about wealth and helping those suffering lack in Jerusalem because of famine. In the context of redemptive investments, Paul states that Jesus became poor that they (Corinthians and all believers) might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). He then defines what he meant by rich:

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having sufficiency for every need, you may have an abundance for every good work” (9:8).

By good work, Paul meant investing in the needy believers in Jerusalem. By doing so, they were cheerfully fulfilling kingdom law and increasing future returns all in the spirit of meekness. (Leviticus 25:35-37; Proverbs 19:17)

The ancient model of meekness was Moses (Numbers 12:3). Yet, Moses stood against Pharaoh face to face as God commanded. Moses led the Jews and others out of Egypt toward the promised land. Moses gave Israel the law of God. Moses led the warriors of Israel. Moses commanded the execution of Jews who had rebelled against the command and law of God. Moses interceded on behalf of the people in the face of God anger and judgment. Moses cared deeply about all of Israel. Moses trained Joshua for future leadership. Moses stood up to the opposition of jealous family members and others. However, the meekness of Moses was not defined by his courage. It was his caring and especially his obedience to God. God defended Moses against all opposition as Moses turned to God. That is, Moses trusted God. He trusted God because God carried out His word. Therefore, he was faithful to God. As a result, Moses waited on God. The one exception when he was angry about the faithless complaining of the people Moses went beyond God’s instruction. God used this as an object lesson by forbidding Moses from leading the Israel into the promised land. (Numbers 20:1-12)

In other words, not waiting on God leads to wrongdoing resulting in adverse consequences no matter who you are.

Notice, inherent in the English word “wait” consists of two implications: (1) it refers to duration of time during which a person waits for another person to respond, act or fulfill an agreement, or vise versa. (2) It more importantly refers to service to others i.e., to wait on a king, waiting on tables, etc. Just as Moses fulfilled both, those who heard Jesus’ sermon would have understood the same applied themselves. Waiting on the Lord meant waiting on God to act to enrich their lives with His wonderful presence and power, to comfort them during time of suffering, to lead them into possession of the benefits of the promise land.

The same audience also would have understood the purpose of God’s law of healing. The meek could not possess the earth if hindered by debilitating diseases. Consequently, citizens of God’s kingdom were to expect good health because they faithfully obeyed the law. (Exodus 23:25; Deuteronomy 7:12, 15) As the law promised good health, God also promised healing even if new diseases occurred. That is why healing was a prominent part of Jesus’ messianic work; the obedient were being restored in order to possess all of the benefits of the promise land.

So it is to be expected today.

The blessings of citizenship in God’s kingdom by covenant through faith in Jesus are promised to all. It is the fulfillment of God’s word to Abraham that through his descendents all peoples would be blessed. The Torah, songs of Israel (Psalms), and the proclamations of the Prophets contain the definition of the intended blessings. In his sermon from Mount Gerizim, Jesus reiterates the blessing. (Matthew 19:27-29; Luke 18:28-30; Mark 10:28-30)

Why Ground Zero Mosque is Not Good for Islam or America

No wonder Muslims around the world claim the Ground Zero mosque and cultural center project is bad for Islam. First, the original name proposed by Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf for the mosque, Cordoba House, is a throw-back to its Middle Aged namesake famous as a launch pad for Islam’s militant efforts of global domination. The term used for it is Jihad, which is more than just a religious concept of self-rule. It also is a term depicting militant religious conversion of all infidels or non-Muslims.

If peace with the Western world were actually the Rauf’s goal, why then has he developed a Shariah Index? Not to be confused with some of financial indexes, the purpose of his index is to measure how well nations conform to the Sharia law. It is a Western tool to make governments and cultures compliant to policy goals. The Koran provides the principles and Sharia law provides enforceable sanctions. After Muslims conquered Spain over 1,300 years ago, they launched their camapign to conquer the Western world from Cordoba. The Shariah Index shows Rauf’s intention is to launch a similar campaign to again conquer the West. However, this time Jihad comes in the deceptive form of tolernace, education, and peace.

The ultimate aim of Muslim clerics like Rauf is to convert the world to Islam. At Cordoba Spain, the victory was secured by militant Jihad. Peaceful co-existence came at the point of swords of Muslim rulers. Peaceful co-existence was the result of enforcing Shariah law upon predominately Christian Spain.

Amerincans and the West becoming aware of such relations between Muslim and Christians at Cordoba indeed would not be good for the Islamic cause.

Second, one of the primary financial backers of the Ground Zero mosque is Hisham Elzanaty, who has been a financial supporter of Hamas. Elzanty, an Egypian born New York medical supply dealer, also has gained noteriety for attempting to scam Medicaire. Don’t ask–don’t tell policy in Islamic circles may make it difficullt for fellow Muslims to distinguish between those who are committing “terrorism” and who are doing good social works, but to many Western onlookers their seems to be little difference. This is more than Islamaphobia or racism; it is just the proper kind of skepticism or maybe fear. (NY Post, September 3, 2010)

Third, and last, is the recent discovery that the U.S. government is funding the construction and renovation of mosques around the globe. Ancient Rome under Caesar did the same thing. Nicole Thompson, spokeswoman for the State Department’s U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), stated the purpose of these projects:

“It is helping to preserve our cultural heritage. It is not just to preserve religious structures. It is not to preserve a religion. It is to help us as global inhabitants preserve cultures.” (Newsmax, September 6, 2010)

Notice, the Obama administration justifies spending millions of taxpayer money to fund foreign “cultural preservation” projects as somehow preservering our cultural heritage. Islamic cultural is not our culture. It may be Obama’s and Hilary may have adopted her assistants religious culture, but is not America’s culture. Christian culture and law our heritage. The U.S. is not the United Nations, but apparently, globalists like Obama think otherwise.

Obama’s official support of the Ground Zero mosque and cultural center is a tell-tale sign of why it is not good for Americans either. Not only is federal tax dollars financing Imam Abdul-Rauf’s fundraising trips but state taxpayer money may also be given to underwrite the mosque. Obama’s diplomatic along with financial backing of the Ground Zero mosque and cultural center gives legitimacy to the ancient dream of a global and triumphant Islam. (NY Post, August 10, 2010 and Reuters, August 27, 2010)

U.S. Bailout Foreign Companies, but What Happened to Peace and Prosperity?

Yesterday, Newsmax ran a story about the federal government bailout of overseas banks and other foreign corporations. Part of the reason was attributed to global reach of AIG. Because we are all part of a global economy, a global bailout was to be expected.

I don’t remember hearing the Obama administration, Congressional politicians, or the media ever mentioning that part of $787 billion would help save foreign banks or General Motors, do you?

To save the world, globalists on Capitol Hill seem to believe Americans on Main Street should welcome state approved robbery. The Washington-run Empire, like all past empires, impoverishes millions of its people for the grand cause of power, status, and the flow of wealth. Remember, most of the imperialists on Capitol Hill are millionaires.
Anyone familiar with the history of bailouts funded by the federal government (including the Federal Reserve) knows this has been going on for decades.

In one sense, global economy is just another nice but deceptive phrase for the increasing reach of American economic empire. It appears that the goal of Democrats is to increase the burden of empire to the point of America’s bankruptcy.

That is one important factor that led to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Are the elites among the Republican Party any different? I doubt it. Can you remember any America president or Congressional majority ever proposing to end the American military presence around the world? Only Ron Paul proposed such a thing. Doing so would put billions of dollars back in the pockets of Americans. A large scale-back of U.S. military’s global presence would also mean leaving America’s global corporation vulnerable to the dictates of foreign governments and the interests of their people. Not that the wealth given to foreign government by American corporations is used to prosper all of their citizens, but its does keep foreign dictators willing to dance to America’s green tunes. Think of how much that would save taxpayers if Congressional politicians were not so willing to travel to all of those subjected nations.

I know; we are the leader of the world. World peace and prosperity is dependent upon our government. Millions at home and certainly abroad are still are wondering when real peace and prosperity will be achieved. Maybe the elite’s utopian vision is flawed. Just consider the achievements of that bastion of global peace, the United Nations–not very impressive. No lasting peace in Israel, genocide in Sudan, massacres in Africa, wars in the Middle East, Europe, Central America and elsewhere, and now terrorism. Don’t misunderstand me, sincere efforts toward peace are honorable, but repeating failed policies and strategies of the past is to demonstrate stupidity.

Again, the lessons of failed empires of the past demonstrate egalitarianism, multiculturalism, moral relativity, immorality, and much debt are all co-factors in what social scientists call structural violence, which includes poverty. The peace waged by all empires has been most won and maintained by the merciless power of their armies. Empires have never been very effective at creating real peace or prosperity for masses of non-elite peasants. America is no exception.

American exceptionalism inherited from its founder’s vision has been fading away for a long time. Maybe it’s not too late to revive it.

Wonder of Christmas Transcends War and Worry

By Gary Palmer

Christmas holds different meanings for different people. For most of us, when you get past the stress of shopping and decorating, there is a sense of peace and joy and just plain childlike wonder at Christmas that transcends everything else. And nothing elicits those feelings quite so well as hearing Christmas hymns.

In fact, at least for a short while, a Christmas hymn stopped a war 95 years ago and restored a sense of humanity and common decency to the combatants on both sides. Known as the Christmas Truce of 1914, on Christmas Eve the stillness of a cold moonlit night was broken by the voices of German soldiers singing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” from their trenches.

Across No Man’s Land, the British rewarded their German enemies’ rendition of “Silent Night” with enthusiastic applause and cheers, which the German carolers acknowledged with equally enthusiastic bows. The British then reciprocated by singing their own hymns.

Graham Williams of the London Rifle Brigade recalled, “They finished their carol and we thought that we ought to retaliate in some way, so we sang ‘The First Noel,’ and when we finished that they all began clapping; and they struck up another favorite of theirs, ‘O Tannenbaum’. And so it went on. First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words ‘Adeste Fideles’. And I thought, well, this was really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

At one point in the line, a German soldier played Handel’s “Largo” on a violin. The simple words and music of Christmas hymns, although sung in foreign tongues, transformed enemies into brothers. British soldiers realized that the men across the battlefield were not the barbaric Huns depicted in British newspapers. The hymns had the same effect on the Germans. One German soldier reported hearing “… a Frenchman singing a Christmas carol with a marvelous tenor voice. Everyone lay still in the quiet of the night …. We all kept our guard, only our thoughts flew home to our wives and children.”

Along parts of the line, British soldiers snapped to alert thinking an attack was imminent when they saw unusual lights beginning to appear at portions of the German lines. To their delight, the Germans were placing Christmas trees adorned with candles on their parapets. “English soldiers, English soldiers,” shouted the German troops, “Happy Christmas! Where are your Christmas trees?” Amazingly, German soldiers left their trenches and approached the British trenches bearing gifts which the British heartily accepted, offering gifts of their own in exchange.

The unofficial truce also gave the combatants an opportunity to bury the bodies of dead comrades who lay in the mud of No Man’s Land. At one funeral, soldiers from both sides gathered to honor the fallen by reading the 23rd Psalm, once in English and once in German, followed by reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Those soldiers realized that none of them had any real enmity toward one another. In fact, some exchanged names and addresses and became life-long friends after the war. They were fighting each other because their government authorities ordered it so and they had to obey. As they laid their comrades to rest, heads bared in tribute, soldiers from both sides confessed to each other that they had no desire to fire another shot.

On Christmas morning, worship services were held above both lines of trenches. British and German chaplains intermingled to lead mixed congregations in prayer and the singing of hymns. Robert de Wilde, a Belgian artillery captain, joined an improvised mass held in a barn. “The soldiers were singing,” he remembered. “They were singing: ‘Minuit Chretiens’, ‘Adeste Fideles’, ‘Les anges de nos campagnes’, all the songs we used to sing when we were little.”

Just like the Christmas hymns the soldiers sang to each other, the songs we hear in our churches, our homes and on the radio should remind us of what Christmas is really about. It is about celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, the coming of the One who can transcend the madness and mayhem of war as well as the fear and worry over a bad economy.

It is not the power of Christmas hymns that does this, it is the love God expressed through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ that can affect hearts, even the hearts of war-hardened enemies who on a cold Christmas Eve 95 years ago crossed their lines to wish each other a Happy Christmas.

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.