Just in the news on Monday 12/19/16:
- The Chinese Navy intercepts a US Navy underwater drone.
- A Turkish man assassinates a Russian Ambassador.
- A man drives a truck into a Berlin, Germany, Church Christmas market killing 12, injuring dozens more.
- The American Electoral College elects Donald Trump president, a candidate whose major proposals included building a wall to keep immigrants out of the USA, and deporting Muslim people from the USA.
- Lots of discussion about whether Russia interfered in our election process through hacking of emails.
- People fleeing the bombed-out Syrian city of Aleppo.
That was all on one day. Geesh. Kinda gives me the shakes just looking at it.
The other day I was driving my car down the road to the church as I always do, and it struck me how normal the drive was. People in other cars passing me. Houses. Trees. All very normal. And then I thought, I wonder how life will change in these next four years with our new president. Will driving down the road be just as normal as it is today?
That might sound like a ridiculous question. But I wasn’t really thinking about the act of driving, or the technology of a car. We know that car technology is changing, and in four years from now there will be different cars, with different technology. Maybe there will be cars that drive themselves, or cars that talk to one another. Maybe it will be a safer way to travel. But that’s not what I was thinking about that day.
In my mind I was thinking about the world. I was thinking about the news and how troubling it all is. Any one of those news items I mentioned are serious and in bygone eras have been acts of war that led to devastating conflicts.
I think about the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” You know that song? Here’s how it goes:
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.
I 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.
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.”
You’d think the song was written for our time. But it wasn’t. The lyrics of the song are based on an old poem. One of America’s greatest poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote the poem “Christmas Bells” on Christmas Day 1863.
Think with me about what was happening in our country in 1863. The Civil War. In March of that year Longfellow’s oldest son, joined the Union Army without his father’s blessing. Longfellow found out in a letter.
Longfellow wrote the poem on Christmas Day just a month after getting the news that his son was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church in Virginia. Two years before that, Longfellow had lost his beloved wife of 18 years when she was terribly burnt in a fire. It was a dark Christmas day for him.
We might not be in Civil War, but the world feels very dark this Christmas Day, doesn’t it? As we have been learning this past month studying Isaiah, the world was a dark place for the Judean Israelites during Isaiah’s day too. Armies from all around were constantly threatening to invade them. The world was dim. In the next prophecy God talks to the people walking in darkness.
Into that dark world, both theirs and ours, God gives Isaiah a prophecy. Join us this Sunday, Christmas Day at Faith Church, as we look at Isaiah 9:1-7. Will we find light and hope to encourage us in the darkness? I trust we will. I know this. We will learn the end of the song. There are more verses…