What fills your heart when in despair you hear the Bells on Christmas Day?
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
We, too often, bow the head and despairingly declare, “there is no peace on earth” because in abundance the “hate is strong and mocks” the soon return of the Song of Peace.
In The Original Christmas Carol, Stephen Davey suggests Mary explained to Joseph her angelic visitor’s amazing news!
Imagine Joseph’s response: “Oh, wow Mary! What wonderful news! I will marry you any way!” Unfortunately, we know he didn’t immediately believe the explanation because in Matthew 1:19, his plans were to put her away privately. It would be a private divorce.
Did Mary bow her head in despair when she unsuccessfully convinced Joseph her pregnancy was from no man?
Since Mary was chosen to be the mother of the Savior of the world, we can imagine her preoccupied excitement running off to tell Joseph the astonishing news, recounting every word the angel said. And then, seemingly crushed in despair over Joseph’s response, Mary left to visit with her cousin, Elizabeth, who was in her sixth month of pregnancy. Yet, it’s hard to imagine the pain and despair Mary endured until Joseph’s angelic visitation took place (Matthew 1:20). For the three months she was away visiting Elizabeth, did Mary wonder what would happen when she returned? Mary received good will from the Lord. But would she ever again experience the good will of Joseph?
What marvelous news to pass from an angel’s lips that she found favor with God, and though Mary endured much despair, and in time will be told a sword would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35), she would be counted blessed from henceforth (Luke 1:48).
What made Mary willing to sacrifice her life for the service of the Lord even if peace on earth evaded her? What made her a willing instrument in the hand of God? How could she say, “May it be done to me according to your Word” (Luke 1:38)?
No doubt, Mary was familiar with Old Testament prophecy as her song in Luke 1:46-55 indicates her awareness of the covenant God made with Abraham. Mary knew she needed a Savior equal to all others.
Mary also knew of Zechariah’s prophecy given when Elizabeth delivered John the Baptist (Luke 1:67-79, NLT):
“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of his servant David,
just as he promised
through his holy prophets long ago.
Now we will be saved from our enemies
and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors
by remembering his sacred covenant—
the covenant he swore with an oath
to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.
“And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”
When you hear the bells on Christmas day, and in despair you bow your head realizing:
“There is no peace on earth, … For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men,” remember the baby born in a manger, the prophet of the Most High, is God’s tender mercy, giving light to anyone asking for deliverance out of darkness guiding us to peace forevermore.
The Lord is no longer the babe in the manger, but a lion about to pounce on His prey, delivering us to eternal peace.
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep. When Jesus returns, the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, He will be the Peace on earth, with good will to all His children.
While ringing singing, on its way, the world revolves from night to day, may you be the voice, like Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, and Elizabeth, a chime, a chant sublime, inviting all to soon experience, peace on earth, good will to men by believing in the One who was born in a lowly manager, yet lived a perfect life, and died for all sin!
What fills your heart when in despair you bow your head?