Faith Rewarded

Welcome! Christmas carolers will be out and about in the Atlantic community on Monday, December 18. We’ll sing favorite carols and deliver baskets of fruit and homemade Christmas cookies. I’m not sure when we started this tradition at Fallowfield, but I remember Christmas caroling from the time I was nine or ten years old. We’d pile into Jim Kunselman’s school bus and drive all over creation, it seemed.

Angles sang the first Christmas song to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”   (Luke 2:14 KJV) Christians have sung Christmas songs ever since the night Jesus was born.

Most Christmas carols have stories attached to them, but one of my favorites is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” It’s based on a poem Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote on Christmas Day, 1864. This was during the Civil War, when it seemed the killing and grief would never end. His wife had died two years earlier, and his son, Charley, had been wounded in the battle of New Hope Church on November 27, 1864.

As writers do, he poured his grief onto paper. His words stir my heart more than 150 years after he wrote his poem. The third stanza eloquently reveals his anguish:

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!’”

But he returns to hope in the last stanza, writing,

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.”

Little did Longfellow know, the Civil War would end fewer than four months later. His son, Charley, recovered from his wound and lived a full life. I love this Christmas carol because it shows how even in the midst of grief we can put our faith in a kind, just God. Longfellow did just that, and within four months he saw that his faith was rewarded.

Fallowfield United Methodist Church’s Christmas Eve service is at 7 p.m. Please join us if you don’t have a home church. I expect we’ll sing Christmas hymns, read Luke 2:1-20, and have a brief candlelight service at the end. Jesus was born at night, and I think the holiness of Christmas Eve surpasses any Christmas Day celebration. I hope you can go to church on Christmas Eve and feel Immanuel, “God with us.”

Have a wonderful week. Blessings!