By James H. Snowden
ut has not the Christmas star already been extinguished in such a night? Has the angels’ song survived the World War? Have not its notes of glory to God in the highest and peace among men been utterly drowned and lost in the rattle of machine rifles and the mighty explosions of monster guns that shook Europe and reverberated around the world? Was not this war the flat denial and total annihilation of the message and spirit of Jesus, entirely silencing the angels’ song that gladdened the earth at his birth? Can it even be heard after many months when angry voices and the crash of falling wreckage still disturb the world? These ominous questions are causing anxiety to many Christian souls and may well give us pause.
But the gentlest forces are ever the mightiest and last the longest. The sunlight is swallowed up in the storm and the very sun itself seems blotted from the heavens, but presently the blackness breaks, the clouds roll away, and the sun again smiles upon the scene, as, indeed, it had never ceased to smile. The song of the birds is hushed in the crash of thunder and the rush and roar of wind and rain, but after the storm passes their dulcet voices again sing out with fresh gladness in their song. A hammer can pound ice to powder, but every particle is still unconquered ice, and only the gentle kiss of the sun can subdue and melt it into sweet water. High explosives and poisonous gas can devastate the earth, but only the balmy breath of the springtime can clothe it in verdure and cause it to burst into bud and bloom.
The war has indeed enwrapped and in a degree wrecked the world, and the voices of peace were little heard in the storm. But now that the guns are silenced and the clouds are rolling away peace is again surging up in the heart of humanity as a passion and is at the work of clearing away the wreckage and of rebuilding the new and better world that all men hope is to emerge out of the ruins of the old. Alexander and Cæsar and Napoleon and the Kaiser—mark the anticlimax!—are gone, their swords are rust, their dreams are dust, but Jesus Christ remains the same yesterday, to-day and forever. His penetrating and persistent voice was not really silenced even during the confusion of the war, rather was he then speaking in the thunderous tones of judgment; and now the Christmas angels are being heard again as birds are heard after the storm. The hand of Christ has been shaping the course of the world, even when convulsed in war, and is now remolding its plastic elements into form. He has not been dethroned and discrowned in this world-cataclysm in which so many thrones and crowns have come tumbling down, but is still the Prince of Peace. The Man of Nazareth is speaking with a majestic voice to-day to all these nations and asserting the waste and wickedness of war and the brotherhood of man as they were never asserted before, and urging them to build a league of peace that may be the greatest outcome and blessing of the war. A new world may arise out of the ruins of the old that will be worth all the blood it cost and may be the prelude of the fulfillment of all the dreams of prophets and poets of a Parliament of Man under the rule of which “the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.” Then shall the angels’ Christmas song break from the gallery of the skies and fill all the world with its notes, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.”
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