Last night, during our 11:00 p.m. Christmas Eve worship service, as we held our candles in the darkness, we remembered the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce that took place in World War I. I shared the following words:
100 years ago tonight, young men from Great Britain and young men from Germany were five months into a war that would eventually be called “The Great War,” “The War to End All Wars,” and finally, “World War I.”
100 years ago tonight, young men from Great Britain and young men from Germany were living in trenches, having already experienced attacks and counter attacks that gave each side nothing more than injury and death.
And 100 years ago tonight, in Flanders Fields and in other places all along the Western Front, young men from Great Britain and young men from Germany called their own truce. In one place it started with the two sides lobbing Christmas Carols instead of artillery at each other. When one of the Germans started singing Stille Nacht, the Brits joined in, singing in English. Before the night was over, the “no man’s land” between the trenches had become a soccer field, and soldiers from opposing sides where sharing pictures of their families at home and sharing Christmas treats those families had sent them.
In the weeks following this incident, thousands of soldiers on both sides had to be transferred to other units serving in other places along the front, for they refused to shoot at these people they got to know and with whom they had shared Christmas.
After I shared these words, our choir director sang Stille Nacht, and the congregation joined in singing “Silent Night.”
For more information on the Christmas Truce, I recommend the following:
A sermon by the Rev. Fred Small, that he posted on Facebook.
This song by John McCutcheon, that introduced me to the story:
This video from a PBS program: