Wednesday, 13 December 2017 07:17

Will You Help Make Peace on Earth?

Written by  Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon, First UMC Montgomery
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Of all the music heard on the radio around Christmas, I have always thought John Lennon’s “So This is Christmas” to be one of the more unusual songs of the season.  Written as a protest song to the Vietnam War, Lennon sought to elaborate upon the themes of social unity and peaceful change enacted through personal accountability and empowerment, trying to convey optimism while avoiding the sentimentality that he felt often characterized music of the holiday season.

 

As Lennon sings, “So this is Christmas” in the background other voices can be heard singing, “War is over, if you want it. War is over, now.”  The lyrics remind us that Christmas is for all persons – regardless of one’s social status.

 

The call to end the fighting and unrest – at home and abroad – that accompanied the Vietnam War then is appropriate again for us today.  As we near the end of 2017, it has been a challenging year, full of social tension and anxiety, both domestically and internationally.  We have witnessed unthinkable violence in our own country in Charlottesville, Las Vegas, and most recently in Sutherland Springs, TX.  We have seen countless other acts of senseless hatred perpetuated upon innocent persons around the world.  And servicemen and women continue to fight on the battlefront in foreign lands, even amid escalating threats of nuclear war emanating from the Korean Peninsula and ongoing threats of terror from groups like ISIS.

 

The line in Lennon’s song, “Let’s stop all the fight” is a call to action.  He sings, “War is over…If we want it.” 

 

All of the preparation going into the upcoming Christmas holiday is happening because a baby was born in a small, obscure village thousands of miles away, over 2000 years ago.  The birth of Jesus changed the earth as we know it.  While his entrance into this world is romanticized today, with strains of “Silent Night” and beautiful nativity sets, he was born among livestock, to a young woman who became pregnant out of wedlock, during a time of social unrest.  Governmental leaders, concerned with the preservation of their own power, at all costs, even made threats against his young life, forcing his parents to flee their native land as refugees into Egypt. 

 

But on that night in Bethlehem, long ago, shepherds gathered with their flocks and witnessed the heavens filled with angels, singing another message.  This message was not one of war, conflict, or strife.  This message was not one of dissention, trouble, and unrest.  No, this message was a message of peace.  Peace on earth, good will to all people.

 

In the great hymn, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, there is a seldom sung 3rd verse, that perhaps we need to incorporate into this year’s Christmas Eve services:

 

 

Yet with the woes of sin and strife

The world has suffered long;

Beneath the angel strain have rolled

Two thousand years of wrong;

And man, at war with man, hears not

The love-song which they bring;

O hush the noise, ye men of strife

And hear the angels sing.

 

 

As you gather in your places of worship on this Christmas Eve, let me encourage you to not only hear the angels sing their message of peace, but to commit to do all that you can to work for peace, for reconciliation, and for a brighter day.  As those who follow the Christ Child, the Prince of Peace, we can honor him with our hearts and our lives by being peacemakers here in Montgomery and throughout the River Region – If we want it.  Merry Christmas!

 

 

Dr. Jeremy K. Pridgeon, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church, is a native of Wewahitchka, Florida.  He is a graduate of The University of West Florida, the Candler School of Theology of Emory University, and holds a PhD from The University of Alabama. Jeremy is married to the former Abigail Garrison of Leesburg, Georgia.  Together they have two young daughters, Alexis and Addison. 

 

 

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