A Song of Hope from Christmas Bells
A friend and I explored quaint shops and looked for a fun place to lunch while we walked and caught up on life. We spent much of our conversation back and forth between natural disasters, politics, and culture. In our effort to have intentional time we covered a variety of deep topics.
We hold our friendship dear, we trust one another, and listen respectfully while conversing.
Oh, how I wish the world at large operated in respectful conversations with friends and strangers instead of the war of words that so often takes place.
Then, the bells.
The Christmas bells halted my steps as I noticed them jauntily perched on a Main Street fence.
I stopped because: 1) Christmas was several weeks away at that point, 2) they looked festive and cheery, and 3) they immediately reminded me of a favorite Christmas carol, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day based on an 1863 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Words of that poem (and now hymn) reflect Longfellow’s despair over his wife’s death, the Civil War, and injury of his son.
Looking at the bells brought song lyrics to mind:
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.
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.”
In this moment I dwell on Longfellow’s words, sing the song in my head, and consider despair as he describes it and as we might experience it today.
We desire peace on earth and good will towards one another, yet throughout media, it appears that hate is strong and peace and good will are mocked.
When we immerse ourselves in posts, comments, one-sided views, and harsh voices, we become overwhelmed with anxiety, frustration, anger, and, yes, despair.
If media doesn’t drive us to our knees, life events can. Grief, loneliness, fear, and discouragement often overwhelm, especially during the holiday season.
The expectation of perfection in holly jolly celebrations and perfect family gatherings can put such unnecessary pressure on people.
Relief and Hope
Christmas celebrates the birth of the One who came to save this world—Jesus Christ, who IS Love, Goodness, Mercy, Compassion, and Justice.
He is the One I must remember to cling to today and every other day of the year.
Lights, songs, and bells all display magnificent sights and sounds for us to behold and remember the glory and majesty of the Promised Messiah who came to save us and give us abundant life, now and forever.
He is my Hope.
That belief comes to mind during the beautiful, hopeful conclusion of Longfellow’s poem and Christmas carol:
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.”
This Christmas may we cling to hopefulness of that newborn babe in the manger, the King of kings and Lord of lords. May we sing that last stanza with gusto, no matter what life brings us or how the world tries to overwhelm us with darkness and negativity.
God is not dead.
He does not sleep.
He prevails over all and His peace and Good Will are gifts to us. May the cheerful voices of Christmas bells remind us that no matter what…He loves us. May we sing and shine a beacon of His love to the world around us.