In 1914, German and British troops were engaged off and on in battle, as they were stationed a few hundred yards apart on the Western Front. With Christmas approaching, the young soldiers were ready for some relief.
It began on the night of Christmas Eve, when German soldiers lit candles on their Christmas trees — not a good move, since the enemy could easily spot their position. British soldiers responded by building bonfires.
The Germans began singing Christmas carols, inviting the British to join in. One British soldier called out, “We would rather die than sing in German.” A German soldier responded, “If we had to listen to you sing in German, it would kill us too.” Throughout the night, each camp listened to the other sing.
The next morning, hundreds of soldiers left their trenches to meet the enemy in no-man’s land, where they shook hands and exchanged gifts. Some traded names and addresses. Meanwhile, a soccer game was played between the shell holes and barbed wire.
Both German and British generals spoke out against the truce, fearing that this could sap the troops’ will to fight. Of course, it didn’t. Fighting resumed the following day. Eventually ten million people would lose their lives in World War I. But on this single day two enemies put aside their differences long enough to practice peace.
What if we were called to a truce? Imagine husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, neighbors and co-workers. What if we made a determined effort to live in peace with one another, just for the season?
We might begin to experience what those soldiers experienced for one day, and what the angels promised the shepherds on that first Christmas night: Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, goodwill towards men – Andrew