A story was told of an encounter during the First World War. It was Christmas Day, 1914. A soldier popped his head over the top of his trench and looked out across no man’s land. Rather than throw a few grenades across the field of death, he instead tossed a couple of tins of corned beef into his enemy’s trench, knowing that both sides of the war lacked basic essentials and were nearly always hungry. Within a minute, a sound landed in the soil next to him. It sounded the arrival of a packet of coffee and some sweets, courtesy of the enemy.
Within a short while jokes were being translated from German into English and vice versa. Food was pooled, a game of football was played between the warring armies. The day ended with smiles and even prayers for each other.
On 26th Dec, the commanding authorities on both sides outlawed any repetition of this event and the fightings and slaughter began again.
If we were to ask people about the meaning of Christmas, after hearing this story; many may sum it up as being a season to be kind, caring, about doing good and looking out for each other and about setting aside our differences (at least for a while).
But really, the Bible describes the meaning of Christmas in an entirely different way. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The birth event was pronounced to be a time of “peace on earth and goodwill to men”, which sounds like the message of those trenches!
The friendship of the warring soldiers was a broken relationship. There was a continuing deadlock and the war continued until both sides exhausted, one finally gave way and peace was restored. Sadly, that peace lasted only 20 years before the whole thing started again. The friendship based on trust, had not been put back to what it had once been. All that had happened was that one side had managed to subdue the other for 20 years. The root issue was not resolved. So the relationship remained broken.
The sin of Adam and Eve had also broken our relationship with God. How could flawed creatures like human beings, with all our selfish desires, possibly put right a problem with the infinite Creator God we have disobeyed. It is impossible.
Christmas is the beginning of God’s answer to this problem. Jesus entering the world is like the first expression of love, concern and compassion. But Jesus went further. He took upon the sins of the world, endured, suffered and went to die on the cross. He did it to get back the relationship that was broken. He stepped down to our level in order to lift us up to Himself.
The arrival of Jesus showed that God still love us and made a way for us to get right again and live forever with Him.
May the joy of the Lord be ours and may our Christmas be one that is worthy of the Lord’s death and love for us all.
Elder Andrew Lim
Ref: RBC 2012 – Christmas story.