TITLE: Lasting Peace
DATE: November 11, 2018 – 100th Anniversary of War to End All Wars
TEXT: I John 16:33 (ESV ) - I (Jesus) have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
The “War To End All Wars” was only 5-months old and already 800,000 men had been wounded or killed. In those days satellites and drones weren’t needed to locate the enemy. The enemy was right over there. On quiet nights you could hear him talking.
Christmas presents started arriving from home… and the governments sent something, too. The Tommys got plum pudding, chocolates, cigarettes and tobacco. The Germans received much the same… and more. Indeed, they had so much they smuggled a chocolate cake to the British.
Along with the cake there was a note which suggested a Christmas ceasefire.
As evening fell, the soldiers, surrounded by death and far from home, began to remember other, past celebrations of the Savior’s birth. Then, something happened. Some German troops put up small Christmas trees, tannenbaums, on the parapets of their trenches and they began to sing Stille Nacht ("Silent Night") – it was answered by the English, “Silent Night.”
Signs began to appear. The Germans wrote: 'YOU NO FIGHT, WE NO FIGHT.' The British replied with hand-lettered banners saying, “Merry Christmas.”
On Christmas morning, the "no man's land" between the trenches was filled with fraternizing soldiers, sharing rations and gifts, singing and (more solemnly) burying their dead between the lines. Soon they were even playing soccer. The Germans won, the score was 3-2.
That is the kind of thing which can happen when you know the Prince of Peace.
Today is exactly 100 years since the guns of that great conflict were silenced and nobody who fought “over there” remains alive. Since the November 11th Armistice was signed, governments have come and gone, map boundaries have been rewritten and lasting peace has proven to be elusive.
With all these changes, there are two things I am sure of:
To remember this Armistice Centennial the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Society of the Honor Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the National Cathedral have asked the country to pause and join together in a nationwide bell tolling which they have called “Bells of Peace.”
After our prayer this devotion will conclude as they have requested. But we will add one thing. Following the 21 tolls, we will have a pealing of bells to rejoice in the victory of our loving Lord, the Prince of Peace.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord we give thanks for all those who have given of themselves to keep us safe from earthly dangers, dictators and despots. Most of all we give thanks for the Savior Who gave His life to save us from sin, death and devil. In Jesus’ Name we give thanks. Amen.
In honor of those who have served we have the tolling of the “Bell of Peace”, followed by the joyous resurrection bells of Switzerland
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by The American Legion on July 3, 2018 . Those who wish to reference those articles may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: https://www.legion.org/honor/242366/bells-peace-ring-nov-11