Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets (Ecclesiastes 12:5).
We’ve heard the song. Bing Crosby first sang it in 1943. The airwaves of America have carried it every year since then.
“I’ll be home for Christmas” he assured the listeners. But he wasn’t speaking for himself. His was the voice of thousands of Americans in distant and dangerous places scattered from the snows of Europe to the sands of the Pacific Islands.
For most, it was only wishful thinking. That explains the phrase, “If only in my dreams.”
War does not fit well into the picture of Christmas. Snow, mistletoe, and presents under the tree—that’s what is expected. That’s what many long for. Not blood on Christmas snow. Not medics scrambling to pick up wounded.
Misery does not make for a merry Christmas. The quiet of the dead is not what we think of when we sing “Silent Night.”
There is something very wrong with this world when the celebration of the “good tidings of great joy” is dampened by tears and crowded out by the sound of exploding shells. We do not believe Christmas is the time for mourners to go about the streets.
But it happened. It happens. It will happen again.
What should we do about this? What else but to glorify the Child of Christmas? What better than to cling closer to him? Does not war and bloodshed drive home the value of Christmas?
Another old song announces,
“Hark now hear the angels sing, A new king born today, And man will live forevermore, Because of Christmas Day.”
We will not live forevermore here on earth. Here we are only TDY. Our forever home has a different address. There the streets are described as if paved with gold. We sing, “There are the good and blest. Those I love most and best. And there I, too, shall rest. Heaven is my home.”
We need to finally get home.
We want to be filled with Christmas joy in the here and now. We want to receive goodwill. But our soul longs for never-ending perfect peace. That’s not going to be found here.
Wise Solomon may not have been thinking about Christmas when he talked about people going to their eternal home. But he surely knew that for the children of God, where their Savior dwelt, there was their forever home.
We pray that war will cease. We ask our Father in heaven to so rule world events that none of those who defend our nation will bleed and die. We beseech him to bring them back to loving homes.
We want them to have a merry Christmas.
But we understand well that earthly joy, like all of earthly life, is only transitory. Even the best of times quickly pass.
Thus, we fix our Christmas eyes on that which is eternal. We think of loved ones who now live in their forever home.
We may miss them. But we do not want them recalled to the battle line. Let them have their forever celebration. It adds to our joy to know their war is over.
They are home for Christmas.
We pray: God of mercy, God of grace, look down in pity on the human race. Guard and guide the souls at risk. Bless and keep those who look to you for help. Allow us to again know the joy of our salvation. Comfort us in our troubles. Bring us home for Christmas. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military