But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
It was one of the strangest episodes in military history, an event so unusual that it was first considered a myth.
At 8:30 pm on Christmas Eve of 1914 in the dank and muddy battlefields of northern Europe during World War I, a British soldier dispatched a report to headquarters: German soldiers have illuminated their trenches and are singing Christmas carols and wishing British soldiers a very merry Christmas.
At first, British officers ordered their men to be silent wondering if the carols were just a German ploy in the midst of the battle. Before they could make a decision on what was happening, a British soldier began to sing his own chorus of “The First Noel.” At this, a German soldier called out across No Man’s Land – the barbed wire-strewn, deadly middle ground separating the armies – “Come out, English soldier; come out and meet us.”
The British soldiers began to climb out of their trenches and met the German soldiers in the no-man zone between the armies. As they did, the soldiers began to gather and exchange chocolate, wine, and souvenirs. They even organized a soccer game, which the Germans won 3-2.
An estimated 100,000 soldiers on both sides simply refused to fight that Christmas. They were exhausted and jaded about the reason behind the war. Indeed, one British soldier, Murdoch M. Wood, speaking in 1930 said, “I came to the conclusion that I have firmly held ever since, that if we had been left to ourselves there would never have been another shot fired.” Unfortunately, most of the soldiers who shook hands on that fog-shrouded Christmas Eve would be dead before the war ended four years later. Many letters from survivors and some grainy black-and-white photographs of this Christmas truce prove it was no myth, but a little miracle in the midst of war.
The angel declared, ”Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
The men on the battlefield that night found God’s favor by dropping their weapons and giving Glory to God. Peace can be possible with our fellow man, even in the midst of the most difficult battles. It takes both sides of the argument to be willing to give God glory. When God receives the glory, the overflow is peace, and the declaration of the angels rings true – peace on earth on those whom his favor rests.
Glory to God!