As Christmas Eve and Christmas Day approach, most pastors are thrilled but exhausted with all the activities and services of the season. The music of Christmas lifts our spirits and gives us a burst of energy to share the usually larger gatherings of worshipers.

In 1847, a French priest commissioned a song for his parish. “Cantique de Noel” was first sung at the Christmas Eve Mass. We know the song as “O Holy Night.” Amazing stories have occurred around the singing of this carol. In 1871 fierce fighting between the French and German forces during the Franco-Prussian War caused thousands of deaths. On Christmas Eve an unarmed French soldier jumped out of the trenches, walked onto the battlefield and started singing the song’s first line in French. After he had sung all three verses a German soldier emerged and sang a sacred German hymn. Fighting stopped for the next 24 hours in honor of Christmas Day. Temporary peace was initiated by the singing of “O Holy Night.”

This Christmas Eve we will sing those words again. “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!” Few words could describe the exhausted feelings of health care workers, doctors and nurses any better. Verse three reminds us that “He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.”

Perhaps as we lift our voices in song this year, our weariness will be tempered through what He taught us: to love one another! We pray that the vaccines will begin to heal our people and allow a new thrill of hope to emerge through our health systems. Our deeper longing may be for a peace this year that can only come through our learning truly to love our families, our neighbors, those in great need and those to whom we can share the “good news of great joy” we feel again at this special season of the year!

May the power of that holy night cause us to fall on our knees in worship before the Christ child! May we then rise with new determination to make 2021 a year of hope and rejoicing.

To you and yours, may God bless us all with a Merry Christmas and an exciting New Year!

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Dr. James E. Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, “Living Without Limits,” was published in late 2019 and is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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