Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Joyeux Noel and Christmas Bells

I watched this movie last night, Joyeux Noel, and wept.

I wept because it honors the story of the historical cease fire that occurred on Christmas Eve during WWI between the Scottish, French, and Germans.

I wept because it displays how ugly people can be, fearful, prideful, arrogant, ignorant, capable of so much harm.

But I also wept because it so beautifully displays people and their desire and capacity for good, for love, peace, friendship, desire for home, the desire to do right, even in the bleakest of times and toughest of circumstances.

I wept because it showes life, our broken world, the horrors that have happened, the lives that have been lost, history that has been shaped for good and bad, and the never ending cry of a world needing a Savior.

I wept because it was beautiful, the message was so absolutely beautiful. And something I so needed to be reminded of this Christmas.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes in his poem (also about war times) "Christmas Bells:"

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

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!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

This poem chokes me up.

Living overseas has opened my eyes and heart to this world in more ways than I ever could have imaged. I resonate with Longfellow's cry about a world filled with hate, mocking, and war. I have experienced (albeit on a much smaller scale) just how real that is. I have been broken. I have cried. I have been left standing in awe, absolutely confused about all that is behind, beside and before me.

But I have also heard the bells peal victoriously that "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men!"

I cling to those words daily. The bride of Christ is broken and ugly, be she is still the bride, and she is ever growing, ever changing, ever bettering, daily. I am a part of that body of Christ. And I have been called to love a world that does not know the hope of eternal peace, that hates, mocks, and fights. But He is coming back! He is alive! And this Christmas I am clinging to this truth and promise more than ever before.

Joyeux Noel, Merry Christmas, from my heart to yours!


Susanne Barrett said...

Beautiful post, Jenny. I just read "Christmas Bells" to my own kids and to my Class Day Poetry Class (grades 4-6). It's one of my favorites.

I blogged about my favorite carol today, if you're interested.

Gail said...

Jenny - I enjoyed your post about your trip home and your pictures are amazing. I'm praying we'll see you in San Diego in February!

With love, Gail