War during the holidays are hard. It doesn’t make any difference which war, but the Civil War brought chaos, hurt, suffering, and despair to all of society. I came across something about the minister of Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia, Phillips Brooks, during the Civil War. This is from Ace Collins.
“By 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, the national spirit was dying almost as quickly as the soldiers on the battlefields. Everyone knew someone who had been killed or gravely injured in the conflict. Scores of women in the church wore black as they mourned the loss of a husband or son. While the preacher [Brooks] tried to fight it, darkness fell over every facet of the services. Brooks was severely taxed each time he stood in front of his congregation. They wanted him to be inspirational, to believe that the good things in life they had once known would someday be theirs again. They wanted an end to the war. Yet even though he made a valiant effort, the preacher couldn’t give his flock what they needed most: peace.”
After the war, though it ended, he personally could not find peace. He left his pulpit for a sabbatical to the Holy Land. While he was there the dark days ended and he tried to tell his congregation what had happened. He could not get his thoughts across to them, but then he penned this song.
“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above they deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
The streets may be dark where you walk, or maybe it is your soul that is darkened. Yet if you want real peace you must turn to the One who brings light. Then the hopes and fears will be met in Him.
“How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
There was a shout given to the shepherds, but other than that the heavens were seemingly silent when the heavenly Babe was born. He still comes that way, silently to enter our hearts. Sometime you need to listen for the faint knock on the door of your heart. He is still calling and one day soon He will come back again the same way.