pastoral/spiritual care

Peace on Earth

We hear a lot of talk about “peace on earth” around Christmastime.  The reason originates in the Gospel of St. Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth, when the angels announced, in the King James Version of Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace; goodwill toward men.”  It is hard to read those words in our world, where wars, natural disasters, rampant unemployment, and crises of a more personal nature all seem to undermine any serious talk of peace.  Of course, this is nothing new.  Over a century ago, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a famous poem, which was later set to music and has become a well-known Christmas song:

“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."”

The threats to peace on earth in the mid-19th century were just as real for Longfellow as our troubles are for us today.  But the truth he proclaimed holds firm for us as well.  No, God is not dead or sleeping.  None of what is happening here on earth escapes God’s notice or concern.  And yes, there will come a day when the wrong will fail and the right prevail, when love will overcome hate, and God will set everything as it should be.  Then there will indeed be peace on earth.

God of peace, there is so much in our lives that seems to make a mockery of your promise of peace on earth.  Help us to see in you a way to live at peace with our neighbors, and with you.  All across the world, we pray for peace.  Amen.

-- Chaplain Stacy N. Sergent

© Medical University of South Carolina | 171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425