Christmas Truce 1914, as seen by the Illustrated London News.

The Christmas Truce

One hundred years ago the world was at war – it was a conflict that changed the world for ever and at this anniversary we have been remembering its impact upon the families and communities in our country. In particular we remember with sorrow our human capacity for conflict injustice and destruction.

This evening our Carols and readings speak of the peace and light and hope that we find in Christ. The birth of Christ – has changed our world forever and continues to inspire acts of love; a desire to change the world and to see God’s peace reign over us. Let us remind ourselves of what happened all those years ago between two armies at war.

Late on Christmas Eve 1914, men of the British Army heard Germans troops in the trenches opposite singing carols and patriotic songs. They saw lanterns and small fir trees along their trenches. Messages began to be shouted between the trenches. The following day a truce was called. Weapons were put aside and British and German soldiers met in no man’s land. They shook hands, exchanged gifts, and took photographs. Some played impromptu games of football.

For a few hours there was peace. Enemies became friends and Christmas was celebrated.

One soldier described the scene in these words: ‘that Christmas Eve was a beautiful night and a sharp frost set in. It was indeed an ideal Christmas, and the spirit of peace and goodwill was very striking in comparison with the hatred and death-dealing of the past few months. One appreciated in a new light the meaning of Christianity, for it certainly was marvellous that such a change in the attitude of the opposing armies could be wrought by an Event which happened night on 2000 years ago.’

War ended for one day – a Christmas truce. A Christmas sharing across the barriers of war. Hope for humanity as people are brought together. Peace on earth: Goodwill to all people. And the Christmas story was its inspiration – In the words of the carol we shall now hear: (from the last verse of silent Night)

Radiant beams from Thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

 

 

written for our Carol Service

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