Christmas 1914

“There is no limit to the measure of ruin and of slaughter;
day by day the earth is drenched with newly-shed blood,
and is covered with the bodies of the wounded and of the slain.
Who would imagine, as we see them thus filled with hatred of one another,
that they are all of one common stock, all of the same nature,
all members of the same human society?
Who would recognize brothers,
whose Father is in Heaven?”

Pope Benedict XV

christmas-truce-wikicommons
(an artist’s impression taken form The Illustrated London News, January 1915 of British and German soldiers during the Christmas truce of 1914)

War is a funny thing.
As in it is an age old oddity.
An ugly, devastating oddity.

Since his fall from grace,
man has been engaged in a constant state of struggle.
Battling and fighting a war within himself as he wages war against all others.
Living in a constant state of destruction…
Conquering, defending, killing, invading, taking…

And yet within man’s duality of his nature…that connection between light and dark…
of both right and wrong,
of both love and hate,
of give and take,
of fair and unfair
of peace and war…
all of which seems to leave him no choice but to create a balance within the chaos
of some sense of fairness or rightness…
as if war should be, could be, conducted fairly or even oddly, justly,
Man continues to yearn for the light, the upright, the hopeful…

As man feels his way through the never ending darkness, he has learned to set parameters.
He creates rules.
Rules of engagement.
Rules of war.
Rules set by the Geneva Convention.
Rules stating that nations are to fight fairly,
as if to say…fight by the rules.

Yet all of this seems to be grossly oxymoronic…
as if war, fighting, maiming and killing could ever be fair,
or just, or right, or proper….

Yet on Christmas Day 1914 man’s conflict and inner struggle with this duality
of his imperfect balance, oddly righted itself…

That in the midst of death and insanity, the arrival of Christmas,
the coming and eventual arrival of the child whose birth brings both the gift of
hope and peace to not merely a few but rather to all mankind,
brought balance, albeit briefly, to man’s seemingly unending inner conflict…

On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for
the celebration of Christmas.
The warring countries refused to create any official cease-fire,
but on Christmas the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial truce.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops sang Christmas carols
to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers
even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day,
some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the
Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues.
At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick,
but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands
with the enemy soldiers.
The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs.
There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a
good-natured game of soccer.

Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task:
the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the no-man’s
land between the lines.

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war
in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of
chivalry between enemies in warfare.
It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by
officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof,
however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons,
the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.

During World War I, the soldiers on the Western Front did not expect to celebrate on the battlefield,
but even a world war could not destory the Christmas spirit.

History.com

“Hark the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born king.”
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!

Charles Wesley

spin

“We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone.
Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never-so-little scar.”

William James

cotton-candy-spin
(image clowns4kids.com)

Cotton candy—the quintessential staple for both circus and fair.

Who among us seemingly mature adults doesn’t secretly yearn for their very own paper rolled cone of pink, bouffant whipped, magically melting surgery goodness when spotting any sort of advert for either circus or fair?

Who doesn’t fondly recall the yearly pilgrimage when the Circus rolled into town?
The sights and sounds of all the colors and music colliding as one…marking the magic of childhood wonder…
From the parades of the marching animals to the death defying flying trapeze artists…
from the clowns riding in tiny jalopies to the booming voice of the circus master…

Despite all of the sensory overloads, if the truth be told, it was the single chance to order a titillating cone of cotton candy which remains paramount in our memories….

Recalling one Christmas many years ago, when my son was a little boy,
Santa had delivered his very own, spin at home, cotton candy maker.
My son thought he had died and gone to heaven as he immediately wanted to make cotton candy for breakfast.

I, on the other hand, had regretted Santa’s choice from the get go as all I could envision was an endless sea of sticky hands, sticky faces, sticky clothes, sticky house…laced with the mother exhausting battle of a small child running on too much sugar….

Thankfully the novelty wore off quickly as there just wasn’t that same sense of delight about making cotton candy in ones kitchen verses the thrill of ordering it, watching it on the other side of the protective glass being spun onto your very own paper cone…add to that marvelous tantalizing moment
with the giddy savoring of the very first melt in you mouth adrenaline rush of sweet tasty sugary magic…

Oh how delightfully wonderful the simple act of spinning sugar can be…

Yet in this tale of spinning all things sugary should be a small consumer warning that not all sugary treats are as sweet nor as innocent as they may seem…

For there is one who is eagerly at work spinning, for both you and me, our very own cone full of sugary spun falsehoods and lies which he passes off as a delightful simple treat…
However there is nothing sweet nor simple to his deception.

For therein lies the importance we are to remember…
that there is one who toils in the shadows, working tirelessly…
taking the very Truth of God, as He spins it into something diabolically other than…

With the the real tragedy of all of this being that we unwittingly and eagerly hold out our hands while impatiently waiting for our very own offering of the twisted serving of his sweet insidious lies.
Which only leads to our coming back for more and more and more…

The prince of darkness happily spins every word of God into a cloyingly sick sweet false prosaic for our sadly spiritually hungry appetites…
as we are either too blind, too naive or simply too hungry to discern the reality.

It would behoove us to remember that too much sugar and too many sweets is never a filling nor lasting alternative to the banquet that has been lovingly prepared for both you and me…
A lavish feast which will fully satisfy all of our tastes, wants and needs…

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14:15-24