This Christmas there’s been a lot of talk about Christmas Day 100 years ago when the fighting suddenly stopped in the First World War and peace broke out in the trenches.
Instead of killing each other, men shook hands, exchanged gifts and played football together.
The Sainsbury’s advert has caused some controversy – and maybe those remarkable hours are too sacred to be used for supermarkets to make more money – but I found it deeply moving nonetheless.
A young British soldier and an equally young German soldier, both moved by the sound of armies singing ‘Silent Night’ in different languages on Christmas Eve, rise out of the trenches of warfare to risk encountering each other as undefended human beings.
Christmas caused the guns to be silent, even if just for a few hours and even if just in a few places along the battle lines. Christmas calls us all to lay aside our own forms of warfare – irritation with our family, jealousy of our friends, hatred of our enemies – and to find a different, a more undefended way of relating to each other.
The silent night of Christmas was, indeed, a holy night, because it brought Jesus to the world, the ‘Son of God, love’s pure light’. That pure light shone even in the darkness of war.
May we this Christmas open the windows of our hearts and minds to ‘love’s pure light’ and feel the peace that only God can give.