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I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

December 19, 2017

Recently, I was listening to the radio and heard Casting Crowns’ version of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Every year, this song makes me pause. It encapsulates how many of us feel about Christmastime.  

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play

And mild and sweet their songs repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men

There’s something familiar and nostalgic about Christmas carols. Even though our lives have changed, our families have evolved, and our homes look different, this tradition remains—we sing the same songs year after year. It’s easy to love them as the comfortable background noise of the season, but when you listen closely to the words, they can be discouraging. In fact, it’s easy to become cynical when we try to reconcile the words of these songs with the reality of our days.

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

Is this all a sham—not the reason for Christmas, but the reality of the season? I’m sure we’ve all asked this question at one point or another. It seems like everyone chooses to be kind for a little while, but we know the truth. There’s war. There’s hate. There are acts of senseless violence. Children are sick. Families are hungry. People are dying. And we’re still singing, “Peace on earth, and good will toward men?” We’re saying and singing one thing, while our present reality looks much different.

I love how the song continues…

Then rang the bells more loud and deep

God is not dead, nor does he sleep

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men

This is a reminder for me and for you. In the midst of all that’s wrong in this world, the truth of Christmas still rings out. This is still a season about the birth of Jesus, a God who loves us, and the fact that He is still in control of the universe.

This doesn’t mean there’s no chaos. We still sing songs that say “peace on earth” in the midst of war and strife. But does that make what we sing untrue? No, because the peace we talk about has come, is here, and is coming. The peace we talk about is in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. He came so that we can celebrate peace on earth and good will toward men, both in this life and the next.


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