I know that this is commercial, but I think this video had a great underlying message. (Well, two messages if you count, “Chocolate makes everything better.”)
This event, the “Christmas Truce” (or armistice) occurred 100 years ago today. It occurred during the early months of “The Great War,” when soldiers from opposite sides celebrated Christmas with songs, exchanging gifts, and joint worship services.
If you are like me, you didn’t pay as much attention to World War I as you did with World War II. Maybe it’s because the latter involved the USA longer, or because it was brought to our home turf, or because we have grandfathers who fought in it.
My new-found interest in WWI was renewed after reading The War to End All Wars. (I recommend you buy it, or check it out from your local library.)
If you scroll through the YouTube comments on the video above (rarely helpful, but still…), you’ll read a lot of criticisms. The biggest is the idea that a company is glorifying and sanitizing war, in the aim to make money.
But in the case of this event, I think the clean and joyful feeling is the point. At the outset of the war, both sides were confident that the war would end soon. That they were still fighting at Christmas was a shock to many.
So here, at this temporary truce, we have the final bright spot before years of stagnant and brutal trench warfare. We have a glimmer of hope, before a descent into decay and destruction. The contrast could not be more stark.
The Meaning at Christmas
Why is this video meaningful for me, at Christmas? Because I see how it points to Jesus, when He came to be incarnated as a man.
When Jesus came to earth, the land of Israel was in a state of confusion and chaos. Jews had been at “war” (politically and ideologically, not militarily) with the Roman government, and they were hopeless to change it.
Of course, to most people at the time, Jesus’ birth and life was not seen as a time of hope and peace. But we know that’s why He came. He came not to solve our temporary problems or give us one moment of peace and hope. He came to reconcile us to God, so that we can be at peace with Him.
And when He came, even as a glimmer of hope for some (Luke 24:21), He did not “end all wars.” (But don’t worry. That is coming!) Just as the Christmas truce in WWI preceded years of death and ruin, the centuries after Jesus has been full of the same, the consequences of a fallen and broken world.
This Christmas truce (100 years ago today) was the calm moment at the sad beginning of a terrible war. But the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (almost 2000 years ago) was the climactic moment of hope for all of history.
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)